Marijuana culture has a language all its own. Some of the terms came out of a need for secrecy among users, some of it to explain the various effects, some of its just industry jargon. But whether you’re an interested observer or newly minted patient here are 10 terms you’d better know–because shatter isn’t a verb.

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol): The prominent psychoactive compound found in pot, meaning this is primarily the stuff that makes you feel stoned. THC also seems to help medical patients with pain and increasing appetite. The amount of THC in pot can vary greatly, from relatively mellow (1-4%) to as high as 33%, according to this.

CBD (Cannabidoil): The medical cannabis community is very interested in CBD’s, another compound found in pot. Unlike THC, cannabinoids aren’t about getting you stoned. In fact, CBD’s generally don’t have a psychoactive effect. They do, however, seem to have a lot of medical benefits from nausea suppression to aiding with psychosis and cancer, according to a 2013 study.

Strain: Here’s where you get all those crazy names, from Pineapple Express to Sour Diesel. There are thousands of different strains, grown for their unique qualities – higher THC, a certain taste or smell, or as a nod to where the strain came from (ie: Mendo Gold, Tahoe OG). Strains are either Sativa or Indica based.

Sativa: Less sedative, more cerebral highs, Sativa-dominant strains are great for day use. Said to increase creativity, focus and feelings of well-being. You won’t get as much of a “couch lock” as Indicas.

Indica: More sedative body high. Better for evening use, or times when you want more of a relaxing high. Users like it as a sleep aid, to relieve pain and generally chill.

Dabs: In simple terms, “dabs” are a very concentrated form of cannabis made by extracting THC and cannaboids into butane hash oil (BHO). oil. Dabs, also known as wax, shatter, slab or honeycomb, are smoked by putting the BHO on a heated “nail” (a piece of glass or titanium that can be heated with a torch). The heat vaporizes the oil to allow it to be inhaled. The high concentration of THC can make for a super strong high, so not recommended for novice pot users. Dabs are especially good for medical patients needing a higher level of pain relief.  Here’s an article explaining it further.

Hemp: Pot’s non-psychoactive sibling. Hemp has been grown for millennia, and can be used to make fibers, paper, and environmentally safe plastic substitutes as well as for a protein source (hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, flour, etc.). Sorry, but hemp won’t make you high, even if you eat a lot. Fun fact; Our American forefathers, including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew hemp.

215:  Proposition 215, passing in 1996, made medical cannabis legal in the state of California. No small amount of mayhem ensued between feds, state officials, dispensaries and medical users. SB 420, was passed in 2003 clarifying exactly what constituted medical marijuana usage. So you can thank 215 for your card, and SB 420 for letting you use it. Just so you know, using marijuana for medical or recreational use is still a federal offense. Technically.

420: Okay, yeah everyone but your grandma knows what 420 means. There have been many stories of how the number came to be associated with smoking pot, including that 420 was a police code for smoking marijuana. The closest anyone can come, however, is that the whole idea started somewhere in Marin with a bunch of high school kids. Maybe its more fun not to really know.

Medible: Pot brownies are a thing of the past, sort of. Marijuana edibles are big business now, incorporating pot (usually in the form of oil or butter) into baked goods. There are now all kinds of ingestible marijuana items including teas, soft drinks, popcorn, chocolates and even ice cream. The high of eating your THC’s rather than smoking them tends to last far longer.

Bong: Water pipes that come in every shape, size and price range (up to $10,000+) filter and cool marijuana smoke. They’re used by inhaling the smoke through a wide mouthpiece after lighting marijuana packed into a bowl.  Here’s a step-by-step in case you can’t picture it.

Shake: About the lowest form of weed, shake are the leftovers from marijuana buds – mainly the leaves and stems. Some folks use it for making weed butter, but you can also smoke it if you know, you’re desperate.

– Chris Hanson & Heather Irwin

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