The ABCs of cannabis

Are you confused about the difference between indica and sativa cannabis strains? Unsure what to say when someone talks about dabbing, vaping, rolling a joint, or smoking a bong? Have you read about terpenes, but unsure about what they are?

Cannabis comes with a lot of unique words and phrases. If you’re new to the world of cannabis, all the unfamiliar language can be intimidating. 

That’s why we’ve made this glossary of cannabis terms. It covers the basic language used to describe cannabis, from medical jargon to common slang. 

We recommend you bookmark this blog and return to it any time you come across a cannabis-related word you don’t understand. The terms are organized alphabetically to help you find what you’re looking for. 


Term used to describe the smell of different strains (types) of cannabis. Cannabis contains a wide variety of strong-smelling, flavourful compounds, and each variety of cannabis has a unique aroma that you experience when smoking or vaporizing it. 


BHO stands for butane hash oil, a concentrated version of cannabis. The active ingredients in cannabis are extracted using butane, leaving a thick golden oil that’s especially high in cannabinoids -- the active ingredients in cannabis. BHO can be further broken down into wax, shatter, and honey oil, depending on the amount of oxygen added and moisture levels during extraction. 


A water pipe, typically made of glass, that can be used to smoke cannabis. The water helps to filter out any impurities and create a smoother toke.


The part of a pipe that holds cannabis. “Smoking a bowl” is slang for smoking cannabis. 


Cannabis that has been ground and rolled up in a dried tobacco leaf, much like a cigar. Blunts contain a small amount of nicotine because of the tobacco leaf wrapping. 

This term refers to cannabis flower that has been picked and dried, and the fresh buds on the plant itself. The bud is the part of the plant that people consume.


The active compounds in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are responsible for most of the potential health benefits of cannabis, as well as the high that you feel from smoking certain kinds of cannabis. The two best-known cannabinoids are the intoxicating THC and the non-intoxicating CBD. The cannabis plant contains over 400 unique compounds and more than 100 cannabinoids


A plant that contains three species: Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa, and the lesser-known Cannabis Ruderalis. Cannabis can be used medicinally and recreationally, and has been studied for its potentially healing benefits


A cannabis product that has been made by extracting active ingredients from the dried cannabis flower. Concentrates are a concentrated form of cannabinoids, and are considerably stronger than dried flower. 


CBD stands for cannabidiol, one of the active ingredients in cannabis. Cannabidiol is non-intoxicating, however, it’s linked to helping ease epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety, inflammation, and chronic pain. 


A slang term that describes smoking cannabis extract. “Taking a dab” or “dabbing” involves superheating a surface until it’s red hot (often with a handheld blowtorch), touching the surface with the concentrate, and inhaling the smoke. Dabbing causes especially strong effects. 

Dry Herb

Fresh cannabis flower that has been picked and dried. Dry herb can be ground up and smoked or vaporized, used to make extractions, infusions, and tinctures, or used in cooking. 


A prepared food or beverage that contains cannabis. Edibles come in many forms, including gummies, cookies, brownies, drinks, mints, and hard candies. Eating cannabis typically creates longer-lasting effects than smoking or vaporizing does, making edibles a popular choice. Keep in mind that effects take longer to kick in, so it’s a good idea to start low and go slow to consume safely.


A concentrated cannabis product made by removing cannabinoids -- the active ingredients in cannabis -- from the dried flower. Extracts are particularly strong and can be smoked, vaporized, or eaten, depending on their form.


Refers to cannabis buds -- either fresh or dried. This is the part of the plant that is consumed. It can be ground up and smoked or vaporized, or it can be used in cooking. 

Honey Oil

Strong cannabis concentrate that’s been extracted and stays in a thick liquid form. Honey oil is typically very high in cannabinoids and can be smoked or vaporized. 


A cannabis strain made by breeding a Cannabis Sativa plant with a Cannabis Indica plant. The resulting plant shares characteristics of both its parents. The majority of cannabis strains are hybrids.


One of the two intoxicating varieties of the cannabis plant. Cannabis Indica plants are mainly grown inside and are typically smaller and bushier with short flowering times.


Dried cannabis flower that has been ground up and rolled in paper to form a cigarette. Joints are meant to be smoked, and are often sold premade (see: “pre-roll”). 


Another term for cannabis.


The increase in appetite and food cravings you may experience after ingesting THC. Many patients use THC to stimulate appetite, especially if they have trouble eating because of a condition like cancer or Crohn’s Disease. 


Another term for cannabis.


A premade joint or blunt that is already rolled up and ready for smoking. Many dispensaries sell pre-rolls, so that patients don’t have to roll their own joints/blunts at home. 


One of the two intoxicating varieties of the cannabis plant. Cannabis Sativa is a taller, lankier plant with long flowering times.


A specific breed of cannabis. There are hundreds of cannabis strains made by breeding different plants, and each strain has a unique flavour, aroma, and effect on how you think and feel. You may want to try different cannabis strains to find one that suits your needs. 


Fragrant hydrocarbons in cannabis that contribute to each cannabis strain’s unique flavour and aroma. Commonly found in essential oils, terpenes also contribute to the effects you feel from cannabis, and many cannabis sellers list terpene profiles on each product they sell. To learn more, check out this list of terpenes and their effects


Cannabis that has been extracted using alcohol. Cannabis tinctures can be taken orally, giving you longer-lasting effects than you’d get from smoking or vaporizing cannabis. Tinctures are popular with patients who want all-day symptom relief. 


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main intoxicating cannabinoid in cannabis. THC is what gets you high, and it also has a variety of potential medical benefits, including pain relief.


A term for vaporizing cannabis -- heating it gently to produce a cannabinoid-rich water vapour that you then inhale. “Vaping” (vaporizing) provides all the benefits of cannabis without producing smoke, making vaporizing much easier on your lungs than traditional smoking. “Vape” can also refer to a cannabis vaporizer. 


Cannabis concentrate that is typically made from butane hash oil (BHO). Wax is solid, but sticky and malleable, much like softened beeswax. It can be smoked or vaporized, and is a particularly strong form of cannabis. 


Another term for cannabis. 

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