What is Cannabis?

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis Lasts 1 Year, it's Dioecious and it's a Flowering Herb

Parts of the Cannabis Plant

Leaf, Stem, Bud or Flowers, which are typically what is smoked, Trichomes, Cannabinoids, also known as THC and CBD, Terpenoids or Terpenes

Other Names for Cannabis

Pot, MaryJane, Ganja, Marijuana, Grass, Weed, Hemp, 420, Sinsemellia, Skunkweed, Herb, Dope, DaMa, Joint, Blunt, Nuggets, Reefer, Hay, Skunk, Boo, Block

Types of Cannabis

Back in the "old days" there were two types of cannabis: The fun one that makes you laugh and get the munchies, and the couch potato relaxing one. The industry has changed so much lately that you would be hard put to find a pure sativa or indica strain in any dispensary. Everything is a hybrid nowadays. But here are the basics anyway...


Sativa are strains originated around the equator. The sativa leaves are taller and thinner, and it has a lighter shade of green and is grown outside. Think SUN with S for sativa.

Sativa plants produce a higher yield of bud (flower) due to longer growing season, but has a lower THC percentage. It's very pungent due to the smell or "terpenes" what we know as essential oils.


Sativa mainly affects the mind. Strawberry diesel and cherry AK are well known Sativa strands. These are a few common effects of sativa:

  • Uplifting or Euphoric Feeling
  • Cerebral High
  • Energizing
  • Stimulating
  • In-Depth Conversations
  • Creativity
  • Increases Sense of Well Being
  • Decreases Headaches, Migraines, & Nausea
  • Increases Appetite


Indica strains originated in the Middle East and thrive in cooler environments. The plants are short and stout and usually grown indoors with grow lights - and yield high THC. Buds are thick and dense, flowering in 8-12 weeks.

Treatments using Indica heavy strains: MS, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Apnea, Insomnia. GDP, Pure Kush and God's Gift are also well known Indica strains. Indica primarily affects the body.

  • Heavy Feeling
  • Relaxing
  • Pain Relief for Chronic Pain
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Anxiety
  • Appetite Stimulation
  • Help to Fall Asleep
  • Decrease Stress



Sativa-Dominant Hybrids: Provides Physical and Mental Relief Some examples include Mars OG, Neptune OG, Headband, Juicy Fruit, Sour Diesel and Trainwreck.

Even Hybrids: Cheese, White Widow, Blue Dream, Blue Widow, XJ-13, Puple Diesel and Super Silver Haze.

Indica-Dominant Hybrids: Full body pain relief with relaxing head high. Use at night for sleep or day for minor pain. Some examples include Tahoe OG, SFV OG, Kosher Kush, Skywalker OG, Purple Urkle, Girl Scout Cookies and Blackberry Kush.

So far, all of the topicals I have researched use several types of plants in them. Most of the plants I came across incorporate hybrid strains.

Parts of the Cannabis Plant

For the purposes of this website we will not focus on the roots, stems or flower (bud). Instead, we'll jump right to terpenes and cannabinoids as they are the most important components of topicals. Learn more here!

Trichomes protect the plant against predators and nature. Clear bulbous globes secrete aromatic oils, which are also known as terpenes and cannabinoids.

Some examples include THC and CBD. There are over 200 different terpenoids currently known.

The above photo shows magnified trichomes.
The above photo shows magnified trichomes.


Secreted in the same glands that produce cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, terpenes are the pungent oils that color cannabis varieties with distinctive flavors. Some of the flavors include mint, pine, citrus and berry. Terpenes evolved in cannabis to attract pollinators and ward off predators.

The above infographic illustrates the types of common cannabis terpenes.

There are many factors that influence a plant's development of terpenes, including climate, weather, age,  maturation, fertilizers, soil type, and even the time of day. Over 200 different terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant, and every strain is typically a unique terpene type and composition.

Many of the topical products out there use essential oils, in addition to the cannabis oil both to mask the strong odor of the terpenes and cooperatively work to achieve health and wellness through relaxation.

Major Cannabinoid Acids Produced by Cannabis

The above chart illustrates the different components of decarboxlyation.

Cannabis doesn't directly make the most famous cannabinoids associated with the plant: THC and CBD. Instead, it synthesizes several cannabinoid acids. But in addition to THCA and CBDA, there are number of related cannabinoid acids that can be produced:

  • CBGA: Cannabigerolic acid
  • THCA: Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid
  • CBDA: Cannabidiolic Acid
  • CBCA: Cannabichromenenic Acid
  • CBGVA: Cannabigerovarinic Acid
  • THCVA: Tetrahydrocanabivarinic Acid
  • CBDVA: Cannabidivarinic Acid
  • CBCVA: Cannabichromevarinic Acid



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