New to Marijuana?
So, you have some questions about medical marijuana? Our goal here is simple – to provide you with information on medical marijuana in a very straightforward and intuitive way. Whether you have questions about common terminology used in the industry, what certain parts of the plants are called and what they do, the different ways marijuana can be consumed other than inhaling/smoking it, this section will provide all of that and more. We hope that you find this information helpful.
Marijuana as Medicine
What is a Marijuana Strain?
Indica vs. Sativa
Indica plants tend to be short and stocky, while sativa varieties are tall and lanky. The leaves of indica plants are broad and chunky, whereas sativa strains exhibit thin and pointy leaves. It should be noted, it’s not always easy to quickly identify the different species solely by their appearance. The variation in form is primarily due to the different geographical regions in which each originate — indicas from the mountainous regions of Asia and the Middle East and sativas from more equatorial regions around the world.
The efficacy, or effect, of indica and sativa strains can be very different. Pure sativa will likely have a powerful uplifting/energizing effect. Sativas can promote focus and productivity – making them preferable for day-time use. However, strong sativas can cause a person’s mind to race and cause users to feel anxious or paranoid. Indicas traditionally promote relaxation and general calming. Often, indicas are thought to be very beneficial for pain relief, anxiety and sleep disorders.
The Effects of Marijuana
Types of Consumption
Ingestion – the cannabinoids and terpenes are extracted from the flower as oil and then either ingested as-is, combined with another medium like food, or processed into pills, gel caps and other traditionally-seen medicinal forms that can enable very precise and controlled dosing experiences (edible baked goods, pills, capsules and tinctures).
Oral Absorption– the extracted oil is combined with another medium. The finished product is kept in the mouth while it dissolves under the tongue, on the tongue or through the inner cheek (mints, lozenges and breath strips).
Topical – the extracted oil is combined with a product that is applied to the skin (lotion, ointments and transdermal patches).
Can I Consume Too Much Marijuana?
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
What are Cannabinoids?
THC - Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most well-known and most often the most prevalent cannabinoid found in marijuana. This is the psychoactive component known to produce euphoria, which is more often described as the feeling of being “high.” THC binds primarily to the receptors found throughout the brain. Research has shown THC to work to reduce or even eliminate pain, nausea and stress while also helping to stimulate the appetite and combat insomnia. In high doses, THC may cause some patients to feel paranoia or an increased heart rate, but those adverse effects will subside with time.
CBD - Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid famed for significantly reducing symptoms in patients suffering from seizure and spasm disorders such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. CBD is the cannabinoid most often recommended for children, elderly and other patients who must remain clear-headed in their activities because it is non-psychoactive, meaning it will not produce euphoria or the feeling of being “high.” CBD reacts with cannabinoid receptors throughout the human body, and works to relieve inflammation and pain while producing a calming-effect in patients. For this reason, it is often used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. It has also been shown to work with THC to reduce the size of tumors.
CBN - Cannabinol, or CBN, is a mildly psychoactive component found in marijuana which, like strongly psychoactive THC, is derived from tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A). CBN is created when THC-A oxidizes. CBN can be used effectively as a sleep aid or sedative. This cannabinoid has also been shown to help regulate the immune system, and works to relieve the pain and inflammation caused by several conditions, including arthritis and Crohn’s disease. Studies show that it can be used to reduce the intraocular eye pressure caused by glaucoma. CBN acts as an anti-convulsant, so it is also beneficial to patients suffering from seizure disorders including epilepsy.
THCA - Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana. The health benefits provided by THCA are most well absorbed by the body through a raw method of consumption such as marijuana juicing. THCA works to relieve inflammation and pain, and is an ideal cannabinoid for treating symptoms of such conditions as arthritis, seizures. THCA is an effective neuroprotectant, so it is beneficial in the treatment of such conditions as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It can also help to stimulate the appetite in patients suffering from cachexia and anorexia nervosa. Most impressively, research shows that THC-A helps to slow the proliferation of cancerous cells.
THCV - Tetrahydrocannabivarin, or THCV, is a psychoactive cannabinoid found most prevalently in sativa strains of marijuana. It is known to produce a more motivated, alert and energizing feeling of euphoria. For this reason, it is often recommended for daytime or any time when functionality is important. THCV relieves stress, and research shows it can help to reduce or even prevent anxiety and panic attacks. For this reason it plays an important role in the treatment of post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD). It is also neuroprotective, so it is ideal for treating conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Unlike THC, THCV works to suppress the appetite, so it is not recommended for patients suffering from cachexia or anorexia nervosa.
CBC - Cannabichromene, or CBC, is a powerful, non-psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning it will not cause a patient to feel “high.” CBC, like THC and CBD, has been shown to encourage the human brain to grow by increasing the viability of developing brain cells in a process known as neurogenesis. CBC plays a significant role in the anti-cancer and anti-tumor capabilities of marijuana. CBC battles inflammation, as well, but without activating any of the endocannabinoid receptors in the body. For this reason, the healing powers of CBC increase significantly when combined with other cannabinoids, like THC or CBD, which do activate endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and throughout the body.
CBG - Cannabigerol, or CBG, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid typically most abundant in low-THC, high-CBD marijuana strains, including hemp. Like THC, CBG reacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. CBG, however, acts as a buffer to the psychoactivity of THC, by working to alleviate the paranoia sometimes caused by higher levels of THC. CBG works to fight inflammation, pain and nausea, and works to slow the proliferation of cancer cells. Research has shown it also significantly reduces intraocular eye pressure caused by glaucoma. Strains high in CBG will be beneficial treating conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and cancer.
CBDV - Cannabidivarin (CBDV) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that will not cause the euphoric feeling of being “high.” It is found more prevalently in indica strains, specifically landrace indica strains, and strains that are lower in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Like CBD, CBDV significantly reduces the frequency and severity of seizures. It also reduces or even eliminates the nausea associated with several conditions, and helps to reduce inflammation throughout the body. CBDV is also beneficial in the treatment of pain and mood disorders.
What are Terpenes?
More than just a pungent aroma, limonene makes a powerful contribution to the impressive medical efficacy of marijuana. Research shows limonene to produce the following effects:
- Stress relief
- Elevated mood
- Aids digestion
- Acid reflux relief
Conferring more than just strong sedative properties, research shows linalool to supply the following medical benefits in marijuana:
- Stress relief
- Muscle relaxant
Also playing a role in whether a strain displays sativa or indica characteristics, myrcene adds to the robust medical efficacy of marijuana. According to research, myrcene is attributed to producing the following therapeutic benefits:
- Muscle relaxant
Contributing strong medical benefits to the synergistic relationship between terpenes and cannabinoids, research reveals that pinene provides the following therapeutic qualities:
- Topical antiseptic
- Promotes alertness
The odor of a marijuana sample. The aroma of marijuana is caused by chemical compounds called terpenes. Depending on the exact mix of terpenes (more than 200 have been discovered), samples can produce a skunky, musky, or citrus odor.
In marijuana breeding, backcrossing is when a hybrid plant (one that is a mix of indica and sativa) is bred with one of its parents in an effort to create offspring that are closer to the
original parent with which the hybrid was bred. Backcrossing is typically performed with the goal of preserving rare strains or enhancing the effects of recessive genes.
BHO (Butane Hash Oil)
An extraction, or concentrate, created by immersing marijuana in a solvent (in this case, butane), resulting in a very potent oil that contains high levels of THC. Also known as “dab,” different varieties of BHO include “honey oil,” “earwax,” and “shatter.” Many different manufacturing processes can be employed to change the consistency and quality of the oil that is derived from this process.
A reference to the flower of the marijuana plant. Buds contains the most resinous trichomes, the translucent stalk-like structures that manufacture and contain cannabinoids (such as THC, CBD, and CBG). It is the bud of the plant that is most desired and that provides the greatest value to both medical and recreational users alike.
The chemical compounds found in marijuana that are manufactured by the resinous trichomes found mostly on the bud, or flower, of the plant. 111 cannabinoids have been discovered to date; the most famous example is THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which provides the euphoric high delivered by most strains of marijuana. Cannabinoids are the “miracle molecules” that provide medical efficacy to patients and are known to deliver pain relief, ease depression, reduce inflammation, eliminate nausea, and even stop the growth of or eliminate cancerous tumors.
This plant, used as a medical remedy for millennia, is actually three species of flowering herbs. Marijuana sativa, marijuana indica, and marijuana ruderalis all offer very different versions of the marijuana plant. Sativa and indica types are the most common. Because of its poor yield and low quantities of THC, ruderalis is not commonly grown or desired by patients or recreational consumers. Sativa varieties are known for their energizing, uplifting effect and are appropriate for treating depression, nausea, and obesity. Indica types are better for alleviating body pain and anxiety and are the most common type of marijuana on both the black market and in legal dispensaries.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the 111 cannabinoids found in marijuana. Next to THC, CBD is the second most common cannabinoid in marijuana. This cannabinoid is known to effectively treat inflammation, pain, and anxiety—but delivers no euphoric “high” like THC. CBD has value in treating conditions such as epilepsy, where it significantly reduces and sometimes even eliminates seizures. It is especially appropriate for childhood epilepsy because it delivers no euphoria. Strains high in CBD include Harlequin, Critical Mass, and Killawatt.
Extracts from marijuana that offer greater strength and potency than flowers from the herb and are available in many different forms. Concentrates are created by use of a solvent to dissolve the resinous cannabinoids found on the herb’s bud, or flowers. Concentrates typically have very high levels of THC and other cannabinoids. Examples of concentrates include BHO (Butane Hash Oil), kief, “wax,” and “shatter.”
The act of breeding two different strains of marijuana to produce a new and unique strain, The goal when crossing strains is to combine the most desirable traits of both parents. An example is Blue Cheese, which is a cross of Blueberry and Big Buddha Cheese.
Slang for a dose of BHO (Butane Hash Oil) that is smoked or vaporized. “Dabbing” is the act of consuming dabs, often using special pipes, bongs, or vaporizer attachments.
A business or non-profit retail location where patients (and sometimes recreational users) can gain consultation from an expert (called a budtender or patient care specialist), select, and purchase marijuana. Dispensaries provide something called “safe access,” helping patients and consumers avoid the black market.
Marijuana seeds that have been selectively bred to produce only females. This is desireable because it is the mature female plants that produce the most resinous trichomes that contain cannabinoids, the source of all medical efficacy in marijuana. Male plants are identified at the beginning of the flower stage of cultivation and typically destroyed. While many sources will cite feminized seeds as producing the same quality plants as non-feminized varieties, some master breeders claim that feminization produces plants that aren’t as reliable or stable as their non-feminized siblings.
The period of time required for a marijuana plant to go from the end of the vegetative stage (the first stage of growth) to harvest. Sativa varieties typically require a few weeks more to mature than indica strains (why indica types are the most popular—especially on the black market). Flowering time may be a consideration for cultivation facilities and patients growing their own medicine.
The “bud” section of the marijuana plant that matures at the end of the “flower” stage of cultivation, when the number and size of resinous trichomes is greatest. Flowers are the reproductive organs of the female plant and contain nearly all of the trichomes in marijuana. It is typically the flowers that are used to create extracts and concentrates (although these can be derived from trim leaves). When fertilized by male plants, it is the flowers that produce seeds.
Short for hashish, this is a form of marijuana concentrate that is significantly more potent than regular marijuana flowers and has been employed by humans for thousands of years. Hash production involves the separation of the resinous trichomes from the flowers of the plant, typically through use of filtering or sieving. After trichomes are collected, they are pressed or rolled into a brown, gooey paste or sticky, crumbly powder.
A marijuana strain taken from its native land and bred and cultivated in another area of the world. Many heirloom varieties are also landrace strains, meaning they have not been crossbred.
The non-euphoric variety of marijuana that contains little or no THC. By legal definition in the United States and Canada, hemp may contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. Unlike marijuana, which is derived from the female plant, hemp is typically grown from male plants. This fibrous plant can be used for more than 5,000 applications, including shelter, food, medicine, fuel, and even the manufacture of plastics. In southern climates of the United States, up to three crops per year can be grown. Hemp cultivation remains illegal in the United States, although hemp products are readily available (all hemp used in the U.S. must be imported).
A marijuana plant that is a cross of two or more different strains. Most of the marijuana available on both the black market and also in legal states is derived from hybrid strains. Hybrids are created to combine the best traits of two or more strains in an effort to create more effective medicine or a more potent, pleasant, or long-lasting high.
A cultivation system commonly employed in marijuana gardens that involves the use of plant roots suspended in a liquid solution of water and nutrients. No soil is used in hydroponics. Advantages include greater control of nutrient volumes and the ability to make small adjustments to the health of the plant. Hydroponic gardens typically yield about double the flower volume of dirt-grown marijuana, although some claim that organic marijuana grown in dirt—especially outdoors—is the highest quality. Gardeners are obviously attracted to hydroponic growing because of the exceptionally high yield it delivers.
Resinous trichomes that have been extracted, or collected, from a female marijuana plant. Unlike hash, kief is not pressed, but rather loose (a powder). In this respect, hash and kief are nearly identical. Kief is one of the most easily created extracts of marijuana and can be created by gently rubbing marijuana flowers over a screen that features a collection plate below to capture the trichomes. Like hash, kief is much more potent than raw marijuana flowers.
Marijuana plants from the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kush varieties are indicas and most effective for fighting pain, appetite stimulation, and use as a sedative. Many kush strains feature an earthy or citrus aroma.
A native strain of marijuana that has experienced no breeding or human intervention with its genetic structure. Landrace strains have evolved over millions of years and are the source of today’s wealth of hybrid strains most commonly available on both the black market and in legal dispensaries and compassion clubs. These strains sometimes are named for the region in which they are derived, such as Afghani and Thai. Pure indica and sativa strains are typically landraces and relatively rare. Durban Poison is an example of a landrace sativa.
The term given to marijuana in the early 20th century by prohibitionist forces within the United States government and big business that were intent on outlawing the plant. The term was derived from the Mexican “marihuana” (either accidentally or purposefully misspelled) and was used to deceive the public, which was already very familiar with the term “marijuana.” Marijuana was available in the form of a tincture and typically administered for everything from headaches and bruised knees to painful menstruation and childbirth (aspirin wasn’t commonly available until after 1920). While “marijuana” and “pot” are the most common references for the herb in the United States and Canada, “marijuana” is the default reference for the plant in the United Kingdom, Europe, and many other parts of the world.
A label used to describe a family of marijuana strains originating in Southern California. “OG” stands for “ocean grown.” Most OG strains available today are variations of the original OG Kush, which helped make the West Coast a mecca for medical and recreational marijuana.
The physical characteristics of a particular strain of marijuana—such as height, leaf structure, and color—that quickly differentiate it from other strains. The phenotype of indica strains is short and fat, with thick leaves, whereas sativa strains are tall, skinny, and feature thin leaves.
A specific variety of a marijuana plant that falls within a particular species, such as sativa or indica. Strains deliver a particular cannabinoid profile, meaning each offers a unique mix of cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, and CBG. For this reason, different strains deliver markedly varying efficacy. Strain names, most of which have been coined by counterculture underground breeders, typically reflect the youthful, outlaw renegade nature of the mostly illegal world of marijuana. Popular strains include Durban Poison, Jack Herer, OG Kush, Headband, and Sour Diesel.
Tetrahydrocannabinol is the most common and cited cannabinoid available in marijuana. Also referred to as Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, this cannabinoid was first isolated in 1964 in Israel. THC is one of the only cannabinoids to provide euphoria, or a “high,” and thus strains high in this compound have been purposefully bred to produce strains that are more potent and deliver greater medical efficacy. Strains high in THC include Trainwreck, Durban Poison, OG Kush, and Bio-Diesel.
A liquid form of marijuana extract typically produced using alcohol or glycerol that is most commonly administered via use of an eyedropper under the tongue. Because they are liquid, tinctures can be flavored or embellished with other herbs. Tinctures offer the benefit of rapid onset. While they can be mixed into drinks, this significantly increases the absorption rate and onset time because the cannabinoids must now travel through the digestive tract. Sublingual (under the tongue) applications offer much more rapid absorption and, thus, relief for patients (important for those suffering from severe, chronic pain).
A marijuana extract involving the infusion of cannabinoids in a lotion or cream intended to be applied to the skin. In addition to smoke, vapor, edibles, and tinctures (sublingual applications), topical products are another consumption method that can be especially helpful for those who cannot smoke. Topical marijuana products may also be very helpful for skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, and even skin cancer. While relatively new,
topical marijuana products are gaining popularity in states that have legalized at least medical marijuana and developed a manufacturing and dispensary infrastructure that provides such products.
The stalk-like resin glands found on marijuana flowers that produce and contain all cannabinoids and terpenes (the molecules that give marijuana its distinctive aroma). Nearly microscopic, these “silver hairs” give marijuana flowers and some fan leaves their sticky quality. THC, CBD, CBN, and every cannabinoid or terpene of medical value is produced in the trichomes. Plants featuring more trichomes (described as “sugary” or having many “crystals”) are more potent and deliver greater medical efficacy.
A device employed to consume marijuana via inhalation. Vaporizers pass a stream of hot air—either actively (via a mechanized fan) or passively (via the inhale of a user)—across a sample of marijuana, which vaporizes the trichomes, but leaves the plant matter basically intact. For this reason, no combustion occurs in the process of vaporization and it is considered much healthier than smoking. Both flowers and marijuana oils can be vaporized. Available in both pocketable pen types and also more robust (and efficient) desktop models, patients who suffer respiratory ailments often prefer to vape or consume edibles. It is estimated that vaporization is twice as efficient at delivering THC and other cannabinoids to patients, meaning vaporizers, in theory, pay for themselves.