Like in any new world, you always get fUrther if you know the language.
When it comes to cannabis, these rules still apply. You don’t have to know an encyclopedia’s worth of knowledge, but you should at least know the basics.
Here’s a cheat sheet of ‘need-to-know’ terms to get you started:
Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds unique to cannabis that act upon the human body’s receptors, producing various effects. There are over 85 known cannabinoids all with varying effects, including THC, by far the most widely known.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis. THC produces the psychoactive effects—or the “high”—that accounts for the plant’s recreational use.
CBD (cannabidiol) is also a cannabinoid. Unlike THC, CBD generally does not produce a psychoactive effect. Often packaged as an oil or cream, it’s used to relieve symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, and chronic pain. Unfortunately, as a result of its cannabis origins, there haven’t been a lot of trials or studies to validate the effectiveness of CBD in treating many conditions—legalization could change this.
Terpenes are what provide unique flavours and aroma profiles. There are around 200 known terpenes in the cannabis plant, though for most strains, only a few dominate flavour profiles.
Terpenes are like notes in wine—a smell or flavour that contributes to the cannabis experience. Some examples of cannabis terpenes are limonene (citrus), terpinolene (wood, smoke, pine), and caryophyllene (spice).
Terpenes can also contribute to specific therapeutic effects. Myrcene with earth and ripe fruit profiles has been known to compose up to half of the total terpene content found in some individual strains and contributes to the sedative effects attributed to Indica plants.
Sativa vs. Indica
Sativa and Indica refer to the species (strain) of a specific cannabis plant. Indica plants are shorter with fat leaves and originate from the Middle East and Asia. For many people, they deliver more “feel good” effects, and can produce a relaxing sensation, similar to that of a sedative.
Sativa plants are taller with thinner leaves. Their origins can be traced back to South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Thailand. These plants typically produce a more cerebral effect, as opposed to a physical one.