Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re new to the world of cannabis, it can be pretty intimidating. There’s no shortage of jargon to learn—like understanding the difference between the terms cannabinoid vs cannabidiol, for example. If you’re a total neophyte, you may even ask yourself “is cannabis the same thing as marijuana?” 

While the abundance of terminology may feel challenging—don’t worry. The benefits and effects of the cannabis plant make it easy to love! We’re here to help you understand what cannabis is in this beginners guide.

Everything You Need to Know About Cannabis

Today, we’re going to take a crash course in cannabis. First, we’ll look at what cannabis actually is. Then, we’ll examine whether cannabis is the same thing as marijuana. Finally, we’ll explore the differences between some more technical terms: cannabinoid vs cannabidiol.

What is Cannabis?

Put simply, the term “cannabis” refers to a family of plants that you can find growing naturally around the world. The female cannabis plants (which sometimes go by the moniker sensimilla), develop flowers covered in sticky, crystalline resin as they mature.

The main component of this resin is known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. That’s a mouthful, though, so we generally shorten that term to simply “THC.” This organic compound produces several effects when humans heat-activate and consume it. Notably, THC has a variety of psychoactive effects. They may include distortion of perception and time, along with euphoria and other mental sensations.

Are Cannabis and Marijuana the Same Thing?

Yes—the terms “cannabis” and “marijuana” are interchangeable. “Cannabis” is actually the official, scientific name of the plant’s family Cannabis sativa L. It comes from the word “kannabis,” a word that the ancient Greeks borrowed from their neighbors the Scytians. The Scythians and other nomadic tribes used the word to describe the hemp plant. Eventually, other cultures like the Persians and Armenians adopted the word, as well.

In contrast, the word “marijuana” comes from Spanish. It made its way into the English lexicon somewhat nefariously. When the US Federal Government was trying to sway public opinion against the plant, they started calling it “marijuana” or “marihuana” to play off of anti-immigrant sentiment. It played into the whole “reefer madness” idea. Fortunately, the word itself no longer carries any sort of negative connotation today.

Cannabinoid vs. Cannabidiol: What’s the Difference?

This can get a little confusing, simply because both of these words are so similar! But there’s actually a significant difference between a cannabinoid vs cannabidiol. It’s sort of like how a rectangle is a square, but a square isn’t a rectangle.

The term “cannabinoid” is an umbrella term that refers to any one of 100+ different compounds. These compounds develop naturally in cannabis plants. What’s more, they function as the “active ingredients” in marijuana, giving cannabis its effects. Historically, THC has been the most commonly known cannabinoid.

In contrast, “cannabidiol” refers to a specific type of cannabinoid. You may know it by its more common name: CBD. Some research suggests that CBD may be able to help reduce stress and improve sleep. Other studies have shown that it appears to be an effective way to reduce inflammation.

You Passed Cannabis 101!

Okay, so that’s a lot of information to digest all at once. What’s more, this isn’t even a deep dive into cannabis—we’re just scratching the surface here. But we hope it will give you enough to help you make more informed decisions during your next dispensary visit.

And when you do decide to make that dispensary visit, come to Mission! Our staff would love to help you keep learning everything to know about cannabis. For more, find the Mission dispensary closest to you or browse our online menus from the comfort of home. We look forward to serving you!