Many people confuse the different names for cannabis products. In this article, we will work out the nomenclature of cannabis, i.e. the terms used for its products.

Latin scientific name – Cannabis sativa

First of all, every plant in the world has a scientific name based on Latin. In the case of cannabis, that name is Cannabis sativa. You may have heard of the term sativa before. We’ll write a separate article on the differences (or lack thereof) between sativa and indica subspecies of cannabis. For now, all you know is that the scientific name for the species of cannabis is Cannabis sativa. Shapes and products of the cannabis sativa plant can be considered cannabis in a nutshell.


Cannabis Sativa has been used to make industrial products such as fabrics and textiles for many thousands of years. The word canvas is derived from the word cannabis. Cannabis can also be used for food. The seeds of the plant are nutritious and can be pressed into oil that can be used as an ingredient or in cooking.

Traditionally, cannabis used for industrial material and nutrition is named hemp. The federal government has allowed hemp to be legal because it doesn’t contain as much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A), the chemicals that lead to high consumption. The government has set a certain amount of THC that allows cannabis products to be legally sold as hemp. The weight percentage of THC can be 0.3% or less. More than that and it is no longer called hemp and is technically illegal nationwide.

The CBD industry has used the term hemp to market their products as it suggests that it is 0.3% THC or less. For example, products labeled “CBD hemp oil” are simply oil that is pressed from cannabis sativa seeds, which by definition contain less than 0.3% THC or THC-A.


As mentioned earlier, Cannabis sativa contains THC and THC-A (mostly THC-A), chemicals that cause users to be of high value and offer medicinal benefits in various ways (see the Conditions section for more information). Because of this, cannabis can be used as medicine. Cannabis that is sold for therapeutic value and is getting high is called marijuana. You can find more information on recreational and medical marijuana here.

Marijuana products are grown for their THC content. The amount of THC increases over the decades as stronger plants are selected for the breeding process. Usually, marijuana is grown to prevent pollination so that there are no seeds in the flower, the part of the plant that contains the THC. It does this by removing the male plants before they are sexually mature so that only the female are present. This technique was developed in Mexico in the 1980s and the flower product was named Sensimilla (seedless).

Originally, the term marijuana was actually marijuana, with an H in place of a J. Government Propaganda changed spelling to make it look stranger and to associate it with Mexican drug dealers. Some people consider the current spelling with a J racist, but it’s been done so frequently that most people simply appreciate the story behind the newer word marijuana and accept it as the correct spelling.

Street terms

Few things have as many street terms and jargon as cannabis. There are hundreds of Ebonian and slang synonyms for cannabis. Some of the most common are pot, weed, bud, ganhjam, reefer, 420, grass and chronic. More recently, good quality marijuana has been labeled as loud and low quality marijuana has been labeled reggie. The worst marijuana products that are high in seeds and stems are called shwag.


Beth Edmonds