Dispensary Dictionary: Cannabis Definitions for Rookies

Dispensary Dictionary: Cannabis Definitions for Rookies
Scott Lentz
Whether you use cannabis medically or recreationally, there are certain terms you should know. It's smart to walk into a dispensary armed with knowledge, so there’s no miscommunication between you and the budtender. The more educated you are, the better your chances of having a fairly priced, fulfilling experience.

So we've come up with a dispensary dictionary. While some of this might seem a little remedial to experienced consumers, it should come in handy for new marijuana users and transplants alike. Knowing what's in your cannabis is important, just as it's important to know what's in your food; it also arms you with info to pass along to other people who might have questions. To begin your ascension to informed cannabis consumer, study these definitions:

Pot, weed, bud, grass – whatever you want to call it, all of them refer to the actual flower of the cannabis plant. Flowers are the most valued and consumed part of the plant, as they contain the highest amounts of cannabinoids.

A naming convention used to identify certain varieties of the cannabis plant, often combining the lineage of the parent in the name. All strains have different smells, tastes, structures and effects.


A cannabis species that is known for producing an uplifting, energetic high. The plant is generally tall and lanky. (There have been studies that suggest sativa and indica plant designations only apply to plant height and bud structure, but not effects and flavor; however, dispensaries still use the indica and sativa labels, so it's all we've got to run with right now.)

A cannabis species known for its relaxing, mellow high. The plant is usually short and bushy.

A cannabis plant that has both sativa and indica plant genes. Some hybrids can lean more sativa or more indica, with others falling in between. Many dispensaries will list a hybrid's indica-to-sativa ratio, or how much influence one has on the strain over the other. For example, an even hybrid would be listed as 50-50, while a hybrid with more indica influence would be listed as a 60-40 indica hybrid, and so on.

click to enlarge Tiger's Milk is an effective, delicious indica known for relaxing effects and a sweet, creamy flavor. - HERBERT FUEGO
Tiger's Milk is an effective, delicious indica known for relaxing effects and a sweet, creamy flavor.
Herbert Fuego

A pre-rolled joint, or cannabis cigarette.

Genes from parent strains that give cannabis varities their unique smells, flavors and effects.

A lineage of cannabis that descended from the Kush Mountains on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Kush strains are extremely popular, known for sedative, indica-leaning effects and characteristics, as well as deep green and purple colors.

A cannabis grower that creates or "breeds" new strains.

Cannabinoids are groups of chemical compounds present in the cannabis plant that affect the body and mind through their interaction with special receptors in the brain. Other than THC, there are over 110 different cannabinoids — though we've only studied a handful.

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)
The most common and popular cannabinoid, THC refers to the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. THC has the ability to alter behavior, mood perception and consciousness. THC is also mainly responsible for the euphoric feeling of being “high," though there is still research being conducted on how other cannabinoids and variables can affect that high.

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David Dean founded Serial Optimist in hopes of making you smile. He's an explorer, wanderer, creator and writer. You can find his words on Thought Catalog, HelloGiggles, McSweeney's, Splitsider and more. He has a deep passion for Colorado that is reflected on social media.
Contact: David Dean