Cannabis Terms You Need to Know

Cannabis Education

As the cannabis industry continues to grow and old negative stereotypes are stripped away, more and more people who had no previous knowledge of marijuana or its uses are starting to become curious. However, this growth has also led to an explosion of terms, slang, and knowledge that can be extremely overwhelming for those who are new to the plant.

Walking into a dispensary for the first time should be a positive experience and while employees will be very willing to offer all the help you need, it can still be uncomfortable to walk in blind.

Whether you are a brand-new user who knows nothing about the industry, or you are a seasoned stoner who just needs a vocab refresher, this list of common cannabis terms will help you get the most out of your next dispensary visit.


First thing first, the ganja, green, pot, and reefer

Cannabis has so many different names, it would be impossible to cover all of them here. Common alternative names are marijuana, pot, ganja, reefer, weed, grass, bush, green, herb and lettuce. Don’t worry about learning them all. Dispensaries are likely to use the basic names, like cannabis, weed, marijuana, and pot.


Bong is one of many cannabis terms


A bong tool used for smoking ground cannabis bud. Bongs look like glass vases of various shapes and sizes. The bottom chamber of the “vase” is filled with water and the ground weed is placed into a small bowl and burned. The resulting smoke is pulled through the water to cool it down before being inhaled. This method can be a little intimidating for new users.



Pipes that are intended for smoking cannabis are typically called bowls. They are usually glass, but can also be metal or wood.


Budtender is the name given to a person working at a dispensary who interacts with customers and sells product. Like a bartender, this person will take your order and provide you with what you need. They tend to take it a little further as well and are a great person to ask for information.


Cannabidiol (CBD)

You won’t often hear this one referred by its actual name. Cannabidiol is almost always referred to as CBD. CBD is a compound found in cannabis, and one of the more important terms on this list. CBD has no psychoactive effects and can be used to treat pain, insomnia, anxiety, and much more. CBD can be used by itself or in its natural form within cannabis. There are a variety of different ways to use it. Ask your local budtender about the best options for you



This is a place where legal cannabis can be sold for either medical or recreational use. If recreational marijuana is legal in your area, you can walk right in and purchase whatever you would like, assuming you are over the legal age. Purchasing for medical use is typically less expensive. However, you do need a medical card provided by a doctor.


Cannabis terms


An edible is any type of food product that contains either CBD or THC. The possibilities for edibles are practically endless: cookies, brownies, sodas, gummies, to name a few. Edibles tend to appeal to novice cannabis users who do not feel comfortable smoking. However, be cautious with dosage and take your time. The effects of cannabis can take a while when dosed through an edible, so resist the urge to eat more and more.



Flower is one of the cannabis terms that might be used to describe the consumable part of a marijuana plant. Other names include bud or leaf.



If a budtender tells you that a specific strain is a hybrid, they mean that it is a mix of Indica and Sativa strains. Most strains are some variation of hybrid, either leaning more Sativa or more Indica (see below to learn more about these). The balance of a hybrid allows users to know what kinds of effects they might expect from that strain.



This is one of the more common cannabis terms that you will come across in a dispensary. Indica is a subspecies of cannabis. If a budtender tells you that a strain is Indica, then you can expect a heavier “body high” from that strain. Indica strains are typically used to treat stress and anxiety as they will relax users or even put them to sleep.



A joint is the common name for a marijuana cigarette and is used the same as traditional cigarettes. Typically users will grind their own bud and then roll it into rolling papers.



A pre-roll is one of the products you are likely to find at any dispensary. This term refers to a joint that has been rolled for you by the dispensary and is ready to buy and use. This is great for newbies who are not comfortable just yet with preparing their own joints.


Sativa is the other side of the penny from Indica. Sativa strains are known for their cerebral high and energy-inducing effects. While other variables (such as terpenes) will dictate a cannabis experience, Sativa is the go-to for that “happy stoned” feeling.


Another purchase option at many dispensaries, shake is the name given to the small leftover buds that end up at the bottom of a batch. Dispensaries will often sell these leftovers for a discount.


Cannabis terms


A cannabis strain is like a breed of cannabis. Growers have been mastering the process of taking strains of different types and breeding them together to create new ones. This has allowed users to experience different effects and have customizable options. Strains have their own unique and creative names. You may see strains called Green Crack, Harlequin, OG Kush, Strawberry Cough, and more.



This term isn’t exclusive to cannabis, but most people will hear about it for the first time in this environment. Terpenes are oils found in pretty much any kind of vegetation. They give plants their smell and taste and have been associated with different kinds of therapeutic effects. Different strains contain different terpenes that can adjust the experience of users. Many experienced bud users aren’t even experts on terpenes, so don’t stress too much yet on knowing each one. Instead, pay attention to the terpenes in strains that you have enjoyed and use this knowledge to find other strains that may give you similar benefits.


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

THC is the money ingredient of cannabis. This is the molecule that gets you high.  Strains with higher THC will have stronger effects. Especially as a newbie, keep an eye on the THC content, and ask your budtender what a good starting point may be for you.



Yet another product available in dispensaries, topicals are cannabis-infused creams or oils that can be applied topically to the skin. They are popular for treating arthritis and other types of joint pain and will not cause the user to become high.


Vaping is another popular alternative to more traditional methods of smoking marijuana.  A vaping device will be loaded with a cartridge of cannabis oil which will be heated to create an inhalable vapor. The main appeal to this is that this form of intake lacks the strong smell of smoking a joint or bowl and generally is more discreet and portable.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions

This list covers quite a few of the common cannabis terms you may come across, but with the industry growing and changing daily, more terms and concepts are likely to pop up.

Cannabis professionals tend to be passionate about what they do, and enthusiastic about welcoming new people in so don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Dispensaries offer so many different options and strains that working closely with a budtender is the best way to ensure that you end up with the best product for you.

Ask questions, experiment, and have fun! 



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