As a budding industry, cannabis is filled with a host of unique terms to learn. From acronyms to jargon, understanding cannabis lingo can feel like learning a new language. Whether you’re new to the industry or simply looking to expand upon your current cannabis knowledge, you can bookmark this guide to sharpen your industry skills at any time. 

Plant-related terms

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Bud – The smokable flower of the cannabis plant. 

Cannabinoids – The hundreds of compounds within the cannabis plant that are responsible for medicinal and psychoactive effects. Commonly known cannabinoids include THC and CBD, although hundreds more like CBN, CBG, THCv and others exist. 

Cannabis – A psychoactive plant that contains THC, among other cannabinoids. 

CBD – Cannabidiol, a cannabinoid found in cannabis that is known to hold a host of medicinal benefits including reduced inflammation, better control of epilepsy and seizures, cancer-fighting properties and more.  

Clone – A clipping taken from a mature cannabis plant intended for propagation. 

Cola – The central flower cluster that grows at the top of the cannabis plant. 

Endocannabinoid system – The mammal internal system responsible for regulating our appetite, sleep, memory, reproduction and cannabis introduction into our system. 

Fan leaf – The leaves grown from the cannabis plant, which are not typically consumed. The classic “pot leaf” shape comes from the shape of the fan leaf. 

Feminized – Only female cannabis plants produce buds. Feminized refers to cannabis seeds that only carry female cannabis genetics, thus eliminating the risk of growing a male plant. 

Flower – Flower is another name for the buds of the cannabis plant. Flower refers to the smokable part of the plant. 

Hemp – Hemp refers to a cannabis plant that contains only a trace amount of THC (less than 0.03%).

Indica – Cannabis plant genetics originating from India or  Central Asia. Indica strains are typically shorter and bushier than sativa strains. 

Kief – Cannabis trichomes that are separated from the bud, usually through a grinder or mesh screen.  

Living soil – A cannabis growing method that uses a biodiverse soil mixture containing bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, arthropods, earthworms and more. Living soil is considered an organic method of growing.

Pistil – The hair-like strands on the bud that are responsible for collecting pollen from the male plants. 

Ruderalis – Like sativa and indica, ruderalis is a variety of cannabis that adapted to short growing seasons and extreme climates. Ruderalis varieties are very short and don’t produce as much of a bud yield, so they are less commonly found. 

Sativa – Cannabis plant genetics originating from Europe and Eurasia. Sativa strains are typically taller and skinnier than indica strains.   

Seeds – When a male cannabis plant pollinates a female cannabis plant, the female produces seeds to continue the reproduction cycle. Growers can cultivate cannabis from seeds, although many choose to opt for taking a clone from a mature female as it guarantees a female plant.

Stems – The unsmokable stalks of the cannabis plant. 

Strain – Strains are genetic variants of cannabis that contain different terpenes and cannabinoids profiles. 

Terpene – Terpenes are organic compounds responsible for producing aromatic smells. They are found in all plant life, including trees, fruit, herbs, cannabis and more. In cannabis, terpenes are what give each strain a unique smell and experience. 

THC – Tetrahydrocannabinol is one of the most popular cannabinoids in cannabis. THC is known for its psychoactive effects, meaning it’s what produces the mind-altering experience when consumed. 

Trichomes – The clear, mushroom-head shaped resin glands on the cannabis plant that give cannabis its frosty look. Trichomes serve to ward off predators in the wild. 

Trim – The plant matter removed from the cannabis buds during the pruning process. Typically leaves and stems. 

Types of smoking devices or accessories

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Banger – A popular type of nail used to dab concentrates. The shape is typically bucket-like and is often made with quartz or titanium. A torch is used to heat the banger up, then a piece of cannabis concentrate is placed on the banger and vaporized. 

Blunt – A cigarillo where the ground tobacco inside was removed and replaced with ground cannabis. 

Bong A glass smoking device that includes a bowl, downstem, water chamber and neck that the inhaled smoke travels through.  

Bowl A chamber where ground cannabis is placed and smoked. 

Bubbler – A hand-held pipe with a chamber for water filtration. 

Carb cap – A device placed on top of a banger after the first inhalation to prevent the vaporized cannabis concentrate from evaporating (and going to waste). Some carb cap designs incorporate a small hole for fresh air introduction during inhalation. 

Chillum – A straight, joint-shaped pipe with a bowl larger than a one-hitter. 

Crutch – Another name for the filter found in a joint, blunt or spliff. 

Dab mat – A mat, typically made of silicone, used to place all dab accessories on. As dab accessories get sticky over time from repeat exposure to concentrates, a dab mat keeps your surfaces clean and void of concentrate residue. 

Dab rig – A set-up for consuming concentrates that includes a banger and water chamber. A dab rig is very similar to a bong, but instead of a bowl, a dab rig uses a banger. 

Downstem – A straight piece of glass used in a bong that connects the bowl to the water chamber. 

Dry herb vape – A device that vaporizes ground cannabis flower. 

E-nail – An electronic nail that does not require the use of a torch to heat up. Instead, it uses an electric coil to keep the nail at a constant temperature so it’s ready to use at any time. 

Filter – A rolled up piece of paper placed at the mouth opening of a joint, blunt or spliff. The purpose of a filter is to stop small bits of ground cannabis from entering the mouth and to stop the joint, blunt or spliff from becoming soggy from saliva. 

Gravity bong – A bong design that uses gravity (instead of inhalation) to fill up the chamber with smoke. 

Grinder – A tool used to break up a cannabis bud into smaller pieces for easier and more effective consumption. 

Joint – A rolled cannabis cigarette. Joints do not contain any tobacco. 

Nail – The piece on a dab rig used to vaporize cannabis concentrates. Banger, domeless, e-nail, and swing-arms are examples of nails. Typically made of quartz, titanium, or ceramic.

One hitter – A small pencil-shaped pipe that only holds enough cannabis for one hit. 

Papers – A single-use sheet used to roll joints or spliffs. 

Pipe – A handheld smoking device with a bowl for ground cannabis. 

Pre-roll – A joint purchased from a retail cannabis location that is ready to smoke upon purchase (no rolling required!)  

Reclaim catcher A dab rig attachment that catches the concentrate residue to consume (or dispose of) at a later time. 

Roach – The end of a smoked joint, blunt or spliff that is discarded. 

Silicone piece – A shatter-proof alternative to glass smoking devices.  

Spliff – A joint that contains both ground cannabis and tobacco. 

Torch – A device that uses butane or propane to heat up a nail. A lighter does not get hot enough to heat up a nail to vaporize concentrates, so a torch is used instead. 

Vape – A device that vaporizes cannabis distillate or concentrates for inhalation. 

Units of measurement, methods of consumption or extraction 

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%THC or %CBD – The percentage of THC or CBD in a product. 

BHO – BHO stands for butane hash oil. It is an extraction method that uses butane to remove the cannabinoids from the cannabis bud to use as concentrates. 

Butter/budder – A concentrate consistency that resembles butter. 

CO2 – A method of cannabis extraction that uses CO2 to remove the cannabinoids from the cannabis flower. 

Concentrate – An extraction of cannabinoids that provide a concentrated amount of THC or CBD. Various methods are used to extract cannabinoids. Different methods provide different consistencies. 

Crumble – A concentrate consistency that has a crumble-like texture, similar to cookie dough. 

Dab – A term for one “dose” of cannabis concentrate. A dab is placed on the nail and vaporized for consumption.  

Diamonds – A concentrate consistency that resembles diamonds or small clear crystal structures.  

Distillate – A method of extraction that allows for the separation of specific terpenes and cannabinoids through temperature manipulation. Also known as concentrates mixed with additives that allow for consumption through a hand-held vape. 

Edible – An infused food product that contains THC, CBD, or some other form of cannabis.  

Eighth – A unit of measurement for cannabis flower or concentrates, an eighth of an ounce. One eighth of an ounce equals 3.5 grams. 

Decarb – The process through which the inactive forms of cannabinoids are activated (THCa →  THC, CBDa → CBD). Decarboxylation is typically achieved via the introduction of heat or passage of time. Without this process, the cannabis in an edible would not have any psychoactive effects and is why we must heat the cannabis bud to achieve the desired effect.

Drinkable – An infused beverage that contains THC, CBD or some other form of cannabis. 

Gram – One gram of cannabis or cannabis concentrate. There are 28 grams in one ounce. 

Hash – A form of cannabis concentrates created by mechanically separating the resin (cannabinoids) from the flower. Hash varies from BHO, PHO, and other chemical extraction methods as the cannabinoids are physically removed, not chemically. 

Live Resin – A form of cannabis concentrate created by using freshly-frozen cannabis material. Traditionally, concentrates are taken from fully-cured cannabis plants that were cut down prior to the curing process. Live resin requires using cannabis material that was flash frozen shortly after harvesting, thus skipping the curing and drying process.  Typically yields a product with higher terpenoid content.

Mids – A term used to define mid-grade cannabis. 

Nug run – When cannabis concentrates are made from the flower (or bud) of the cannabis plant. 

Oil – An alternative name for cannabis concentrates. 

Ounce – A unit of measurement equal to 28 grams. 

PHO – A cannabis extraction method that uses propane to remove the cannabinoids from the flower. 

Reclaim – Cannabis concentrate residue captured through a dab rig attachment. When you inhale concentrate vapor through a dab rig, sometimes a portion of the concentrate gets pulled through the rig before it’s vaporized. This not-fully vaporized residue is called reclaim. You can “reclaim” it using a reclaim catcher. Reclaim typically has higher CBN content.

Rosin press – A heated, high-pressure press that squishes cannabis resin away from the plant material. This is a mechanical form of extraction, not chemical.  

Schwag – Slang for low-quality cannabis. 

Space cakes – A cannabis infused sweet treat originating from Amsterdam. 

Sauce – A concentrate consistency that resembles liquid honey. Typically, sauce includes added terpenes and is sometimes mixed with diamonds.  

Shatter – A concentrate consistency that resembles shattered glass when forcefully bent. 

Slab – A very large piece of shatter roughly the size of a piece of paper or larger. Typically seen in an extraction facility following the extraction process. 

Sublingual – A method of ingesting cannabis via the mucous membranes most often found in the mouth. Typically leads to a faster onset time (15-30 minutes) when compared to edibles that are metabolized in the liver (45-90 minutes). 

Terps – A slang term for terpenes. Terpenes are sometimes added to cannabis concentrates to enhance the flavor. 

Tincture – A cannabis ingestible typically mixed with a carrier oil (like coconut oil, for example) that is taken orally. 

Topical – A cannabis-infused lotion or product applied directly to the skin. 

Top shelf – A term used to describe high-quality cannabis. 

Transdermal patch – A patch placed on a veiny area of the skins which allows for the slower, controlled absorption of cannabinoids (typically THC or CBD). 

Trim run – When cannabis concentrates are made from the trim of the cannabis plant. Typically seen as a lower quality from nug run.  

Wax – A cannabis concentrate consistency that resembles wax.

Cannabis industry terms

cannabis industry - vangst

420  – A cannabis holiday that occurs on April 20. Also a slang term for cannabis or a cannabis-friendly event, venue, or person. 

710 – A cannabis holiday focused on concentrates, observed on July 10. The name comes from flipping the date (710) upside down to resemble the word oil. 

Adult-use – Adults who purchase cannabis products at a dispensary and use cannabis products recreationally. 

Ancillary – Non-plant touching businesses in the cannabis industry. Examples include tech companies, recruitment businesses, lawyers, etc. 

Badge – A term used for the MED state badge Colorado requires all plant-touching cannabis industry employees to obtain. 

Budtender – A retail cannabis employee that assists customers or patients in the shopping process. A budtender is the main customer point of contact at a dispensary.

Closed-loop extraction – A cannabis extraction process that keeps the solvent contained within the equipment and prevents exposure to the air, thus minimizing the risk of explosion.   

Compliant – A term used to describe businesses, employees or actions that are completely legal within the confines of the state’s cannabis regulations. 

Curing – The process of drying cannabis to remove the moisture so it’s smokable. 

Cultivation – The act of growing cannabis for consumption. 

DEA – Acronym for Drug Enforcement Agency, the current branch of the United States government responsible for federal drug policy. 

Dispensary – A retail or medical location where cannabis products are available for purchase. 

EVALI – Acronym for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury. The term came to use during the 2019 vape crisis. 

Extraction – The process of separating cannabinoids from the plant material to create cannabis concentrates.  

Grammer – Term for a packager that separates a large quantity of cannabis or concentrates into individual grams. 

Grower – A cannabis cultivation employee who assists in the process of growing cannabis. 

Head shop – A term used for retail store locations that sell smoking paraphernalia but do not sell products with THC. 

Hydroponics – A grow system that uses sand, gravel, water, coco peat, rockwool, or clay pellets instead of soil to cultivate cannabis. 

Lead – A cannabis grower that oversees (leads) a team of other growers. 

Manufacturing  – The cannabis vertical that handles the packaging and labeling of cannabis for compliant sale. 

MED – The Colorado government division that handles cannabis policy. The acronym stands for Marijuana Enforcement Division. 

Medical – Term for cannabis and cannabis products consumed by medical patients. 

MIPs – Acronym for marijuana infused products. The term refers to any products that are infused with cannabis, such as edibles, tinctures, drinkables, etc. 

MMJ – Acronym for medical marijuana. 

Plant touching – Roles in cannabis that handle cannabis directly. Most roles that fall within the cultivation, retail, lab/extraction, and manufacturing roles are considered plant touching. 

POS – Acronym for point of sale system. Every single legal cannabis sale must be tracked, point of sale systems help achieve this. 

Seed to sale – The path a cannabis product takes to the point of sale. The plant travels through each vertical to the end-point of the customer. 

Stoner – Slang term used to describe someone who consumes cannabis regularly. Depending on the context, it may take on a negative connotation. 

Trimmer – A cannabis industry employee who trims the cannabis plant to remove the stems and leaves from the bud. 

Vertical – Vertical integration refers to the cultivation, lab/extraction, manufacturing and retail sectors of the industry. Businesses that own their cultivation, lab/extraction, manufacturing and retail verticals are considered vertically integrated.

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