Common Cannabis Terminology

Cannabis is an ever-evolving industry with a lot of insider jargon to keep up with. So what are the definitions behind some of the common cannabis terminology?

By Melissa Kenton— September 23, 2020

Cannabis is a new, ever-changing industry, which can make it hard to keep all the jargon straight. Some cannabis terms also have other meanings in everyday life, like crystals, cola, or reclaim, making it even more confusing. To help keep you up to date, we created a list of some common terminology as well as some terms specific to the cannabis testing realm. While the list below does not include every term, it does explain some of the words we use most often.

Any chemical, compound, organism, or substance whose components are being identified and measured at a testing facility. At MCR Labs, we have multiple analytes for each of our tests. For example, when a sample is tested for a cannabinoid profile, the analytes are the cannabinoids — THC, CBD, CBG, etc. When you get a safety screen like heavy metals, the analytes are the metals we are detecting — arsenic, cadmium, lead, & mercury.

Refers to the flowering sites on female cannabis plants. There is usually one large main cola that forms on the top main branch of a plant, with smaller colas that occur on lower branches. However, there are techniques growers use to produce more main bud sites, like topping or training, which some argue increases yields. Although large colas are fun to show off, they can also be tough to dry properly, so we recommend breaking those up to ensure proper drying and curing.

Crystalline, also known as crystals, are a type of concentrate. When you isolate certain cannabinoids like THCa or CBD, they tend to look like salt or crystals. They are the purest form of a cannabis concentrate so they are extremely potent. However, after the isolation process it also now has no traces of terpenes, flavonoids, or any other compound in the plant. For this reason they are often combined with some type of terpene heavy sauce to add flavor and color.

Decarboxylation, or decarbing, is a chemical reaction that activates compounds in cannabis, like THC. Without decarbing, most strains contain relatively little THC. Instead, the plant holds the precursor molecule, THCa. Once heated THCa converts to THC. There are many ways to decarb cannabis depending on the product you have. The most common methods are burning, vaping, cooking etc.

All cannabis plants have nodes and internodes. Nodes are the intersection or joint between branches and the main stem, while an internode is just the space on the branch in between nodes. Nodes are important to identify for growers as they are where the flowers grow. They are also normally where many growers look to prune their plants. Nodes and internodes can also help growers tell if a plant is under stress by taking note when they stretch too long or grow too short.

In any field, a phenotype is a physical set of characteristics that are the result of the environment interacting with genetics. In cannabis, it usually refers to the color, height, & smell of the plant. You can have two seeds of the same strain that each produce plants that look, taste, and smell completely different depending on the environment it grows in. Even if you grow the same batch of seeds in the same grow room, it still may produce slightly different characteristics or phenotypes. I bet there’s a good chance you have tried two different blue dreams before, right? For this reason, growers who want to produce the identical plant usually cut clones rather than plant new seeds.

Hair like structures that usually poke out from nodes on a cannabis plant. Pistils are an important part to identify as they help determine the sex of the plant. Female cannabis plants are the ones that produce flowers, while males are often used to pollinate and make seeds. If you are trying to grow flower, it necessary to identify the sex of the plant and remove the males as early as possible and this can be done by checking pistils.

Leftover, un-vaporized or re-condensed oil that collects and builds up in dab rigs or glass pieces after smoking concentrates. It is very similar to resin, which is the build up of cannabis flower, as opposed to concentrates. Reclaim is still usable cannabis- our scientists did a small experiment and found that reclaim does in fact have many active cannabinoids present. Many people either re-dab it or make it into edibles. Others simply throw it away.

These are just some of the common cannabis terms you’ll hear around the lab, but there are so many more. Next time you come across a cannabis word or phrase you aren’t sure of, let us know!

Originally published at https://mcrlabs.com on September 23, 2020.

MCR Labs is an independent cannabis testing & research laboratory located in Framingham, Massachusetts devoted to cannabis safety and education.