Medical Marijuana 101 – Entering the medical marijuana world can be intimidating if you’re an outsider. There are plenty of terms to remember and trying to figure out which strain is best for you can be a challenge if you’re not familiar with medical marijuana basics.

To get the most out of your medical-marijuana experience, it’s important to have a basic knowledge of common terms. Do you know the difference between sativa and indica plants? What about hybrid strains? This information could come between you and the perfect strain for your individual needs, as plants are grown specifically for their effects.

Below are some common terms in the medical marijuana world and what they mean for you. medical marijuana 101

Cannabinoid

Let’s start simple. A cannabinoid is a chemical compound that interacts and affects the cannabinoid receptors in your brain. Within the cannabis plant, there are 113 different cannabinoids and each one has a different purpose. The ones we know best are THC and CBD, however, THC is the only known cannabinoid that has psychoactive effects.

Terpenes

You know how some medical marijuana strains smell much more herbal than others? You have terpenes to thank for the diverse smells in marijuana, as well as other organic material like trees and flowers. Terpenes are located in the same glands as THC and CBD and are in charge of how certain strains smell and taste. There are more than 100 different terpenes in a cannabis plant and scents and flavors can range from herbal and piney to citrus and fruity.

THC

Plainly stated, this is the stuff that gets you high. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is a cannabinoid that is found in the marijuana plant and is known for its psychoactive effects. THC has the “high” effect by binding with the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in your brain. THC effects have been touted to help relieve pain, nausea, depression and anxiety and help with sleep. THC does come with side effects that include dry eyes, dry mouth, memory loss and coordination troubles. For some users, the side effects and “high” feeling can be too much for the relieving benefits. That’s where CBD comes in.

CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) can be extracted from both marijuana and hemp plants. Unlike THC, CBD does not have any psychoactive effects, as it very weakly binds or does not bind at all to CB1 receptors. Instead of the “high” effect, CBD can help with anxiety, pain, inflammation, nausea, depression and more. Many people choose CBD over THC because of its little-to-zero side effects. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t have side effects like dry eyes, dry mouth or the mind-altering feeling of being high. This makes CBD easy to use while at work or out of the house.

Sativa

When choosing a marijuana strain, you’ll see one of three options: sativa, indica and hybrid. These terms represent the kind of marijuana plant the strain is harvested from. It’s important to know how each plant affects your body and mind so you can have the best medical marijuana experience after picking out a strain. Sativa plants are tall, thin and take longer to mature. The strain has a higher THC level than its CBD level and is best-known for its energizing, creative effects, which is why many people use it in the daytime.

Indica

Unlike sativa’s long and tall plant attributes, the indica plant is fast growing, short and stocky with thick leaves. Indica plants are known for growing fast and surviving in harsh climates. Indica plants are often CBD dominant, which contributes to its body-relaxing effects. While sativa is known for its “head high,” indica provides a full-body relaxation high that can benefit chronic pain and insomnia.

Hybrid

When an indica plant and a sativa plant fall in love, they come together and create a hybrid. OK, it’s a little more complicated than the “marijuana birds and the bees.” Hybrid strains are created from two parent plants (also known as “cross breeding”) and exist to provide medical marijuana users options when it comes to the effects they’re looking for. You can choose from indica-dominant hybrids, sativa-dominant hybrids or sativa and indica-balanced hybrids.

Hemp

Hemp comes from low-to-zero THC sativa plants and is used in many ways. As mentioned above, CBD can be extracted from hemp, however, the psychoactive effects do not come from hemp plants. That’s because hemp is one of many cannabis plants, each with a different purpose. The hemp plant is known for its versatility. You can extract the hemp seed for food and cosmetics, while the stalk provides important fibers that can be used as clothing, paper products, insulation and more. medical marijuana 101

Kief

When breaking up or grinding bud, the crystalized cannabis that transfers onto your fingers on into the grinder is called “kief.” (Or “keef,” depending on your preferred spelling.) Kief comes from the resin glands, which has a high concentration of terpenes and cannabinoids, and is often sifted from the bud to create edibles, sprinkle on top of a bowl or joint or make into hash.

Bud

Simple and to the point, bud is another way to describe the nuggets you smoke. medical marijuana 101

Now that you have your handy cheat sheet, it’s time to hit up a medical marijuana dispensary and find the best strain for you.