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Cannabis Acronyms and Terminology

With new research conducted daily, the cannabis industry is always quickly changing. For those who don’t have a strong connection to the latest industry practices in cannabis, this can make keeping up and understanding the language a little difficult. From cannabis acronyms to an ever-growing list of cannabis terms with double meanings, articles and blogs on cannabis can seem like a foreign language with all the industry-specific jargon. At Steep Hill Illinois, we want our information to be accessible to readers. Here is a list of common cannabis acronyms and terminology to know:

marijuana plant
Photo by Wallace Araujo

Cannabis Acronyms to Know in the Industry


BHO is the abbreviation for butane hash oil, which is a cannabis concentrate made up of high levels of cannabinoids. BHO is made by dissolving the plant form of cannabis with a form of solvent, typically butane. This process results in a product that is a thick and sticky oil with high levels of THC. BHO products are also sometimes referred to as dabs, earwax, honey oil, or shatter (Chambers, 2021).


CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, the second most common cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. CBD is a cannabinoid with no psychoactive effects when consumed, making it an alternative for those who want to experience the plant’s medicinal properties without psychoactive effects. CBD is believed to treat symptoms of anxiety, inflammation, and pain (Chambers, 2021; Marijuana FactCheck, n.d.).


CBN is the abbreviation for cannabinol, another type of cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. CBN is similar to CBD, but unlike the latter, CBN does have the capability to cause mild psychoactive effects when consumed in large doses. It is known as a weaker, older version of the cannabinoid THC. When the components of THC age and break down, the cannabinoid becomes less potent and leads to the formation of the mild chemical CBN. CBN is believed to provide medicinal reactions including being used as a sleep aid, for pain relief, and its neuroprotective properties. Though, additional research is still needed to confirm these medicinal components (Sreenivas, 2021).


THC is the abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol, the most abundant and highly sought-after cannabinoid in cannabis plants. THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effects and is considered a compound with no lethal dose for human consumption in its natural plant form. Consumption of THC is used recreationally and for medicinal purposes (Chambers, 2021).

Cannabis Terminology to Know in the Industry

Access Point

An access point is a location that has been authorized for patients to obtain medical cannabis. Access points can also be synonymous with the term dispensary, “depending on individual state legislation, guidelines, and lingo,” (Chambers, 2021).


An analyte is a term used in cannabis lab testing to refer to “any chemical, compound, organism, or substance whose components are being identified and measured,” (Kenton, 2020). In a cannabinoid profile, compounds such as CBD and THC would be the analytes, whereas in a heavy metal or mold analysis the metals and mold would be the analytes (Kenton, 2020).


A backcross refers to a hybrid plant that is bred with a parent plant or genetically similar plant to create offspring that will maintain the desired traits of the original plant. This process is typically used “to maintain rarer strains or strengthen those with desired recessive genes,” (Chambers, 2021).


Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that are found in cannabis plants. When consumed, over 85 of the known cannabinoids can each produce varying effects on the human body, from the psychoactive effects found in THC to the pain relief with CBD (Chambers, 2021).


Clone is a term that refers to the process of clipping a part of a cannabis plant to root and grow separately. This process creates a copy of the plant that is genetically identical to the original plant (Chambers, 2021). Outside of the cannabis community, this exact process for plants is known as propagation.


Cross is a term that refers to a cannabis plant that was bred with two different types of cannabis plant strains. This process is known as crossbreeding (Chambers, 2021).


Cola is a term that refers to the flowering areas of a female cannabis plant. Typically, a female cannabis plant will have one large flowering site which is the main cola, located at the top of the branch. The smaller colas are the flower sites located on the lower branches (Kenton, 2020).


Crystals, also known formally as crystalline, are a type of cannabis concentrate. When a cannabinoid compound is isolated, such as CBD or THC, its appearance will be crystal-like or look like salt. Since the cannabinoid hasn’t been tampered with or added to solvents, it is known as the purest form of cannabis concentrates. Although they are extremely potent, the isolation process also removes all traces of terpenes and other compounds found in the plant (Kenton, 2020).


Decarb is short for decarboxylation, or decarbing, and refers to the process of activating cannabis compounds like THC through a chemical reaction from a heating element. Common methods for decarbing cannabis include burning, cooking, and vaping (Kenton, 2020).


Heirloom is a term that refers to a strain of cannabis that is removed “from its native homeland and propagated in another geographical location,” (Chambers, 2021).


Hemp is a term that refers to a fibrous product made from male cannabis plants. Hemp can be used to make beauty products, paper, rope, and more. Hemp products or hemp plants have no value as a drug because they derive from male plants, which have no psychoactive compounds compared to their female counterparts (Chambers, 2021; Marijuana FactCheck, n.d.).


Hybrid is a term used to describe a cannabis plant that has been bred with at least one separate strain. This process can happen unintentionally but is typically used to combine the desired traits of two separate cannabis strains into one. The majority of cannabis available on the market will be some type of hybrid (Chambers, 2021).


Hydroponics is a term that refers to a gardening system that grows plants in water and without the presence of soil. The plants receive their nutrients from solutions added to the water instead of from the soil. The advantages of the hydroponic system are that growers can better control the plant’s stability and nutrient intake (Chambers, 2021).


Indica is short for the scientific name of Cannabis indica, which is a species within cannabis plants. The species originates in Asia and the Middle East and can produce physical effects that are relaxing and have a sedative element. Indica plants have compact flower structures and are shorter and bushier than cannabis sativa (Chambers, 2021).


Node is a term that describes “the intersection or joint between branches and the main stem,” (Kenton, 2020). Meanwhile, an internode is a space between nodes on the cannabis branches. Nodes on the cannabis plant are where its flowers grow and also where growers would prune the plant. This part of the plant can also identify signs of stress (Kenton, 2020).


Phenotype is a term that describes the set of physical characteristics of a plant and is a result of the plant’s genetic interaction with its environment. Typically, the phenotype refers to “the color, height, and smell” when describing cannabis plants (Kenton, 2020). It can also include characteristics such as branching, cell structure, and leaf configuration (Chambers, 2021).


Pistils is a term used to describe the part of a female cannabis plant’s anatomy. These appear to be hair-like structures on the nodes of the cannabis plant and are important for determining the sex of the plant. (Kenton, 2020; Chambers, 2021).


Ruderalis is short for the scientific name Cannabis ruderalis, which is a species within cannabis plants. Ruderalis refers to a cannabis variety with a low content of the THC compound. Since it has low levels of THC, the species is typically chosen by breeders for the high levels of CBD compounds it possesses. Ruderalis originates in Russia, making it a hardy plant that can survive in multiple climate types (Chambers, 2021).


Sativa is a term short for the scientific name Cannabis sativa, which is a species within cannabis plants. This cannabis species originated in Asia and around the Middle East but also includes strains in Africa, the Caribbean, and South America. Sativa is a species that grows over 5 feet, is light in color, and can take longer than other strains to flower. This species produces more cerebral effects than they do physical or sedative when consumed (Chambers, 2021).

Spice (Synthetic Cannabis)

Spice, or K2, are slang terms for falsely identified synthetic cannabis, meaning it is not made from the real cannabis plant. This drug can cause serious side effects to even fatal effects because they are made from dangerous chemicals which are entirely unrelated to cannabis (Marijuana FactCheck, n.d.).


Strain is a term that refers to “a specific variety of a plant species,” and is used to identify the specific traits produced in that plant specie (Chambers, 2021). Each strain is developed with specific desired characteristics in mind and is typically named by its breeder. The name of the strain is often chosen to reflect the plant’s appearance, place of origin, or potency (Chambers, 2021).


Trichome is a term that refers to glands in the cannabis plant that produce resin. Trichomes are often described as hairy, sticky, and crystal-like in appearance. Common cannabinoids such as CBD and THC are produced in this part of the plant (Chambers, 2021).


Vaporizer is a term used to describe a device that heats cannabis flowers or cannabis-infused oils for consumption, without the use of flames. This device turns the cannabis product into a vapor that can be inhaled to experience nearly instant effects from the cannabinoids. This device will either be battery-operated or plug-in to charge, which includes e-cigs, vape pens, or vaporizers (Chambers, 2021; Marijuana FactCheck, n.d.).

Visit our blog to learn more about cannabis terms and the latest information on cannabis lab testing!

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Whether interested in laboratory testing, data analysis, or consulting services, you can always rely on Steep Hill Illinois to provide accurate, reliable results on the latest cannabis production practices. Email us today at to get started!


Chambers, R. (2021, January 11). Leafly Glossary of Cannabis Terms. Leafly.

Glossary: Marijuana terminology - marijuana facts: MJ Factcheck. Marijuana FactCheck. (n.d.).

Kenton, M. (2020, September 23). Common Cannabis Terminology. MCR Labs.

Sreenivas, S. (2021, October 29). CBD vs CBN: What’s the difference? WebMD.

Photo by Wallace Araujo:



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