Cannabis 101

Cannabis Terminology and Slang: What It All Means

Though the legal cannabis market has only been around for a couple of years, it would be silly to think cannabis culture has only been around for the same amount of time. For decades, cannabis enthusiasts have been using shorthand, terminology, and slang when referring to cannabis and its activities.

For those new to the cannabis landscape, the cannabis slang can be a daunting place to be. There’s the fear of not looking knowledgable enough or experienced enough, especially when walking into a cannabis store. Of course, there’s no need to be intimidated. For the most part, the cannabis community is a welcoming place. But if you’re looking to do a little learning, here are some of the more common cannabis slang terms used, plus some of the more common terminology used that you may be unfamiliar with.


Dank is used in both the cannabis and non-cannabis worlds, and it can actually mean different things in both spaces. In the non-cannabis world, dank technically refers to something “slightly wet, cold, and unpleasant.” But as time has gone on, dank has evolved to mean something is cool or high-quality. This applies to the cannabis space, too. When someone refers to “dank weed,” they’re talking about cannabis that’s sticky and high-quality with a pungent aroma.


A pinner is cannabis rolled into a small, thin joint that resembles a pin. You can buy pinners, which have been made intentionally smaller than a regular joint. However, cannabis connoisseurs will often use the term pinner to refer to a poorly rolled joint by someone they know.


A phenotype in cannabis refers to the physical traits as plant expresses, which are part of the plant’s genetic code and affected by the environment. The colour, shape, smell, taste, and other physical aspects of the plant are all affected by how and where the plant is grown. When plants are bred, it requires a male and a female plant. The resulting plant will pull phenotypes from the parent plants.


Landrace cannabis strains are the original cannabis strains. The term comes from the Danish word for “origin,” and if you were a cannabis consumer before the late ’70s, odds are you consumed a landrace strain. People then started intentionally breeding types of cannabis together in order to produce strains that had different features and characteristics.


You may not have heard of the word cannabidiol, but what about CBD? Cannabidiol is the non-psychoactive component in cannabis. That’s not to say it doesn’t still have an affect on your brain, it just means you likely won’t feel the same effects as you would if you had consumed a THC-dominant product.


4/20 is a reference to April 20th, which is now known as “International Cannabis Day,” often seen as a stoner’s holiday. The exact origins of 4/20 are disputed depending on who you talk to, but the most common belief is that it originates from five high school students in Marin County, California. For a long time, 4/20 was used as a day of protest in the fight for cannabis legalization. Now that cannabis is legal in Canada, the day is seen as a celebration. There is still a long way to go in the fight for cannabis equality, and 4/20 is bound to be used as a day to recognize this.


7/10 is another big date in the cannabis world, though it may not have the decades of celebration like 4/20. It’s also known as Oil Day. This is because 710 flipped upside down looks like OIL. This term has been around since approximately 2011, although the exact origins and reasoning are still fuzzy. On this day, people celebrate oil products like tinctures, capsules, and softgels.

Head High

You may hear people refer to a strain or product as giving them a “head high.” All of this is anecdotal, but a head high refers to effects of cannabis that can be more energizing or cerebral. Generally, people claim head highs come from sativa strains.

Body High

“Body high” is often used to describe effects that are more physical and relaxing. Again, anecdotal, but people claim body highs come from indica strains.


Terpenes are organic compounds which affect the aroma and taste of a cannabis strain. There is also limited evidence to show that terpenes “may contribute to the distinctive smoking qualities and possibly to the character of the “high” associated with smoking cannabis […] The concept that terpenes may somehow modify or enhance the physiological effects of the cannabinoids.” Terpenes aren’t just found in cannabis, either. Plants, fruit, vegetables, spices…they all contain terpenes. 


Sometimes terpenes and flavonoids are confused. You would think that flavonoids, which appears to be rooted in the word flavour, contribute to…well, the flavour of cannabis. However, flavonoids are responsible for the colour and pigmentation of each cannabis plant. They appear in foods as well, and that’s why sometimes we’re encouraged to “eat by colour.” Certain research on flavonoids has shown they can be somewhat therapeutic.


In addition to being a very popular arm movement now, dabs or dabbing refer to a sticky cannabis oil concentration made up THC and other cannabinoids. It’s also possible you’ve heard to them as wax, budder, or shatter. Dabs are often extremely high in THC, and are most commonly used by experienced cannabis consumers.


Sticky weed, though it may sounds strange, is desirable in the cannabis realm. When weed is “sticky,” that means there’s a high amount of resin left in the trichomes of the plant. Cannabinoids are found within the resin of a plant, so the stickier it is, the more likely it is that you’re going to get more cannabinoids than with drier cannabis.

Obviously there are more than just these terms when it comes to cannabis, but this is a good place to start. The more you read about cannabis, the easier this terminology will become.

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