Glossary of Terms: Cannabis and Hemp Extraction

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Glossary of Terms: Cannabis and Hemp Extraction

Adult Use

The term “adult-use” is more all-encompassing than “recreational use” because it implies that not all cannabis consumers are consuming cannabis solely for recreational purposes. Cannabis is utilized for many reasons that go beyond the recreational/medicinal cannabis binary. 


In the cannabis and hemp industry, biomass typically refers to the plant material left over for processing after the highly-prized flower (AKA colas or buds) of the plant has been removed. 


Cannabinoids are chemical compounds present in the cannabis sativa plant. There are at least 144 different cannabinoids isolated from cannabis, exhibiting varied effects. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the most popular cannabinoids. 


Cannabis, AKA “marijuana” (Spanish pronunciation: [maɾiˈhwana]) among other names, is a psychoactive drug from the Cannabis plant used primarily for medical or recreational purposes. The main psychoactive component of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is one of the 483 known compounds in the plant, including at least 120~ other cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD). 

CBD (Cannabidiol) 

CBD (cannabidiol), the second most popular cannabinoid after THC. CBD is a non-intoxicating counterpart to THC, known for its medicinal properties and has shown effectiveness in treating childhood epilepsy syndromes like Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS).

CBDA (Cannabidiolic Acid)

CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) is one of many cannabinoids produced by cannabis and hemp. It converts to the better known cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol) when exposed to heat. 

CBDV (Cannabidivarin)

CBDV (cannabidivarin) is a non-psychoactive minor cannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp. It is a homolog of cannabidiol. Plants with relatively high levels of CBDV have been reported in feral populations of Indica from northwest India and Nepal. 

CBC (Cannabichromene)  

CBC (cannabichromene) is a non-psychoactive minor cannabinoid. CBC has the same origins as both THC and CBD do in that they all stem from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA).   

CBG (Cannabigerol) 

CBG (cannabigerol) is the non-acidic form of cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), the foundational compound or precursor from which all other cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.) are naturally derived. Often known as the “mother cannabinoid”. 

CBN (Cannabinol) 

CBN (cannabinol) is a cannabinoid typically found in aged or oxidized cannabis or hemp because it is the product of degraded tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). Unlike most other cannabinoids, CBN isn’t a cannabinoid that is formed from the “mother cannabinoid” CBG, but rather is a byproduct of the aging process.


The central flower cluster that is located on the upper portion of the main stems and large branches in a mature female cannabis or hemp plant. Colas are composed of tightly woven teardrop-shaped “buds” that can grow upwards of 26 inches.  


In general, compliance means conforming to a rule, such as a specification, policy, standard or law. In the cannabis industry, compliance typically refers to adhering to the laws and regulations of your local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction). 


Curing is a process of preserving the product while retaining vital flavors, nutrients, and cannabinoids. Curing cannabis forces the plant to use up those sugars, starches, and excessive nutrients before they’ve had the chance to dry out and get stuck inside the plant. 


A plant cutting is a piece of a plant that is used in horticulture for vegetative propagation. A piece of the stem or root of the source plant is placed in a suitable medium such as moist soil. 


Destemming is the process of removing stems from the cannabis buds once the plant is dry. This is typically done using trimming scissors. 


Cannabis plants undergo drying to remove excess moisture from the plant after harvesting and before extraction. It is done by hanging the branches from a string or wire.

Endocannabinoid system

A widespread neuromodulatory system that plays important roles in central nervous system (CNS) development, synaptic plasticity, and the response to endogenous and environmental insults. Comprised of cannabinoid receptors, endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), and the enzymes responsible for the synthesis and degradation of the endocannabinoids. 

Entourage Effect

Entourage effects is when different compounds that are found in cannabis work together to produce a combined greater effect as compared with working separately to give separate effects. 


Flavonoids are phenolic compounds that are formed inside cannabis trichomes and help develop the aroma, flavor and color palette of a cannabis cultivar. Flavonoids are known to have anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-mutagenic properties. Well known flavonoids include vitexin & isovitexin, kaempferol, apigenin, beta-sitosterol, among others. 


Flower is the smokable part of a female cannabis plant. Flower is the most popular form of cannabis due to its versatility. Flower can be smoked using a joint, pipe or a bong. 

Full Spectrum Extract

Full Spectrum is a type of cannabis concentrate that maintains the full profile of the cannabis plant i.e. it preserves the full cannabinoid and terpene content. It also captures all of the therapeutic compounds of the cannabis plant and is known for providing the entourage effect. 


Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products. Hemp fibers can be used to make items including paper, clothing, furnishing fabric, rope, and building materials. In the US, hemp is also defined by the 2018 Farm Bill as having less than 0.3% THC content. 


Cannabis indica is a plant in the family Cannabaceae. It is a putative species of the genus Cannabis. Whether Indica and Sativa are truly separate species is a matter of debate.


Cannabis legalization refers to the movement to remove cannabis (marijuana) from its classification as a Schedule I drug and the criminal justice system and regulated like alcohol and tobacco. At time of writing 11 US states have full legalization. 


Currently falling out of favor in the industry, the word marijuana is being replaced by the use of the word “cannabis” instead. Marijuana is an old Mexican slang word used for the plant in the early 1900s that has negative, prohibition-era connotations associated with racism and anti-cannabis propaganda.

Medical Marijuana (MMJ) 

Medical cannabis, or medical marijuana, is cannabis and cannabinoids that are prescribed by physicians for their patients.


A phytocannabinoid is a molecule synthesized by plants and produced in the trichomes of a cannabis or hemp plant. It also exists in other plants including Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, Acmella oleracea, Helichrysum umbraculigerum, and Radula marginata.


Plant propagation is the process by which new plants grow from a variety of sources: seeds, cuttings, and other plant parts. Plant propagation can also refer to the man-made or natural dispersal of seeds. Propagation typically occurs as a step in the overall cycle of plant growth. 


Cannabis ruderalis, or C. sativa subsp. sativa var. spontanea, is a low-THC variety or subspecies of Cannabis which is native to Central and Eastern Europe and Russia. 


Cannabis sativa is an annual herbaceous flowering plant indigenous to eastern Asia but is now of cosmopolitan distribution due to widespread cultivation. Possibly the most popular form of adult use cannabis.


Terpenes are aromatic oils that provide cannabis varieties distinctive flavors such as citrus, berry, mint, and pine. Terpenes play a key role in differentiating the effects of various cannabis strains. Terpenes are used for various purposes—to provide relaxation and stress relief or to promote better focus and concentration. Common cannabis terpenes include alpha-pinene, beta-caryophyllene, limonene, linalol, and myrcene.


Terpenoids, sometimes called isoprenoids, are a large and diverse class of naturally occurring organic chemicals derived from the 5-carbon compound isoprene, and the isoprene polymers called terpenes. Although sometimes used interchangeably with “terpenes”, terpenoids contain additional functional groups.

Tissue Culture

Tissue culture is a form of cloning in which a piece of plant tissue is sterilized and placed into an agar petri dish. The specimen grows for at least a month in this jar and can then be transplanted into a more typical media for additional vegetative growth.


Trichomes are the “factories” that exist in the flower of the cannabis and hemp plant that produce the hundreds of known cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Trichomes appear as shiny, sticky outgrowths that appear as the silvery “hair” on the buds of the flower.


THC stands for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the most popular cannabinoid which is used as a primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. When consumed, THC induces sensory and psychological effects in humans like mild reverie, euphoria, increased sensory awareness and therapeutic benefits.


Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is the inactive cannabinoid which is the precursor to THC. It is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, produced in trichomes of the cannabis plant. THCA converts into THC through the process of decarboxylation. THCA itself is known for having anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective qualities.


Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV, THV) is a homologue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) having a propyl (3-carbon) side chain instead of a pentyl (5-carbon) group on the molecule. It is a cannabis-derived cannabinoid with different physical affects to THC.  


Terpsolates are recombined cannabis or hemp derivatives. Made from two words “terpene” and “isolate” it is most commonly referred to the post-extraction addition, or recombination, of CBD isolates to terpenes. This is done to enhance flavor and terpene-related effects. 


Trim refers to the excess leaves from buds of cannabis plants. Trim can be used to make extractions, tinctures, hash and edibles, and thus must be used by growers wisely.

Vertical Integration 

Being vertically integrated means that your business owns all the stages of your production process from “soil-to-oil” including cultivation to end-market sales, including extraction and refinement processes.

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