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Medical Cannabis


With this glossary, you’ll be able to understand common terms and concepts concerning medicinal cannabis.

ADR: Adverse Drug Reactions

ADRs are any negative reactions to medications that were unintended or unwanted. If you experience adverse drug reactions or unpleasant side effects when taking medical cannabis, contact your prescribing specialist or clinical team for advice.

Alcohol extraction

Alcohol extraction removes chemicals from the cannabis plant. The cannabis is soaked in alcohol which has been chilled to cold temperatures. This helps to draw the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids out of the plant. The alcohol is then evaporated to leave behind an oil containing the necessary compounds to create a medical cannabis product.

2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG)

It’s one of the two most important endocannabinoids, along with anandamide. It’s a full agonist at CB1 and CB2 receptors, and it is present in high levels in the central nervous system (CNS).

Adult-use cannabis

It’s a term to refer the use of cannabis for non-medicinal reasons.


It was the first endocannabinoid to be discovered. Also known as N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA), anandamide (ANA) is a physiological neurotransmitter formed by human nerve cells. As an important part of the human endocannabinoid system, it binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors similarly to the psychoactive compound THC (that can be found in cannabis sativa).

Cannabinol (CBN)

Cannabinol is a cannabinoid that occurs from the oxygenation and decomposition of THC.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

Is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. CBD is an antagonist to THC and is no psychoactive as it blocks the formation of 11-OH-THC and mitigates the psychoactive effects of THC.

Cannabinoid profile

It refers to the phytocannabinoid composition (qualitative and quantitative) of a medicinal cannabis product. It may vary from batch to

batch. To this day, more than 120 cannabinoids have been detected in cannabis sativa.


Cannabis is a plant in the Cannabacae family best known for the Sativa and Indica species.

Cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptors

As part of the endocannabinoid system, CB1 and CB2 are receptors that bind with endocannabinoids. CB1 receptors are known to mediate physical and psychoactive effects. On the other hand, CB2 receptors regulate immune response and inflammation

throughout the immune and peripheral nervous systems (including the gut, liver, hear, spleen, kidneys, bones, blood vessels, lymph cells, reproductive organs, and endocrine glands).

CB1 present in
Vascular system
Gastrointestinal tract

CB1 + CB2 contained in
Immune system
Bone Marrow

CB2 present in
CNS + PNS (upregulated
with inflammation)

Distribution of CB1- and CB2-receptors in the body. CB = cannabinoid receptors.

PNS = peripheral nervous system. CNS = central nervous system.


It refers to the categorization based on biochemical/pharmacological characteristics of a medicinal cannabis product. These characteristics depend on the extract concentration after extraction of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other active ingredients. The chemovar can vary from batch to batch and, to limit this variability, the content of crucial ingredients (such as CBD and THC) can be standardized. The chemovar of a full-spectrum extract could provide a specific therapeutic activity, due to the synergistic interaction of components (known also as the entourage effect).


The concentration refers to the content of active ingredients found in a certain volume or amount of medicinal product (i.e. mg/g or mg/ml). Standardized products usually have a defined concentration of CBD and THC. Please, consider the difference between the terms concentration and dosage.


It is a plant “strain” resulting from cross-breeding and genetic stabilization. Using defined cultvars may help to reduce the variability of a product’s chemovar.


The dose or dosage refers to the amount (in mg or ml) of a medicinal cannabis product, and/or the standardized active ingredients CBD and THC, taken per administration. It is meant to be determined by a prescribing physician. Please note that for cannabis-naive patients, the dosage shoud be increased slowly and carefull over a period of time (also known as “titration”). Please consider the difference between the terms concentration and dosage.


IIs synthetic Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Dried Cannabis Flower

Dried medical cannabis flower is a natural and unprocessed form of therapeutic cannabis, containing a diverse array of cannabinoids.


It refers to non-medicinal cannabis products that are meant to be orally consumed. These may contain CBD, THC, or a combination of both these compounds. Common edible products may include cookies and brownies, candies, gummies, chocolates and beverages.

Electronic smoking device (vaporizer or e-cigarette)

It is a device for vaporizing. It heats materials, such as the cannabis flowers and purified extracts, often dissolved in volatile liquids to produce vapor for inhalation. Electronic smoking devices are used as a medical alternative to smoking cannabis.

Endocannabinoid system (ECS)

The ECS is a physiological system that comprises neurotransmitters (also known as endocannabinoids), and their receptors (EC1 and EC2). They make up a complex regulatory system that is present throughout the human brain and body, in the central and peripheral nervous systems. The ECS creates and maintains the stability of the organism, by adjusting the flow of many important neurotransmitters, and by regulating many body functions (e.g. appetite, sleep, emotion, and movement).


These are cannabinoids produced by the human body, as part of the endocannabinoid system. Please, see also the terms anandamide, 2-arachdonoylglycerole (2-AG), and phytocannabinoids.

Entourage effect

This effect refers to the modulation and expansion of the THC and CBD therapeutic effects by other pharmacologically active ingredients found in cannabis sativa (e.g. terpenes, flavonoids, other minor cannabinoids). In a full spectrum extract, this effect depends on the chemovar of the product.


It is a process to obtain a substance from something else, usually using industrial or chemical processes. In medicinal cannabis, the term refers to the preparation and refinement of cannabis flowers. Pure concentrates or extracts have much higher potency than diluted oils or cannabis flowers. The parameters and outcomes of the extraction process are defined by the European pharmacopeia.


Please, see extract. The extraction for medicinal use is usually done with organic solvents (e.g. ethanol) or with carbon dioxide.

Finished pharmaceutical cannabis products

It is a formulated, processed, or synthetic form of cannabis that is sold as a finished product.


Flavonoids are a group of naturally produced substances with phenolic structures. They are mostly found in fruits, vegetables, grains, bark, roots, stems, flowers, tea, and wine. These compounds are known for their significant potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits.


It refers to reproductive organs of the cannabis plant. It’s identified as the hairy or sticky part of the plant, which is harvested

for consumption.

Full spectrum

Full spectrum refers to the extract from cannabis plants that contains all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that the plant contains.


It is a term used to describe cannabis cross-breeding. The most marketed varieties (“strains”) are hybrids. Please, see also the terms chemovar and cannabis sativa.


Please, see the terms cannabis sativa, and hybrid.


A plant of the Cannabis Sativa family that has a low THC content and higher concentrates of CBD.


A slang term used to define the dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds of the cannabis plant.

Medical use of cannabis/ medicinal cannabis

Cannabis that’s gone through a strict quality process and is prescribed by a doctor to relieve symptoms of a medical condition.

Minor Cannabinoids

The cannabis plant is known to contain over 120 different phytocannabinoids, all varying in potency and concentrations, but the most commonly known, and abundantly available, are THC and CBD. However, there are a group of rarer cannabinoids that are known as minor cannabinoids because they have a much smaller presence in the plant.

Pharmaceutical cannabis

These are cannabis products produced according to a legal framework for the manufacturing of medicinal products (e.g. Good Manufacturing Practice, GMP). Pharmaceutical cannabis can be a precursor for a magistral preparation or a finished product, and is produced for medical use.


It refers to the effects and side effects of a drug on the organism.


It refers to the organism processing of a drug: processes such as release, absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of

the drug.

Oil (Cannabis oil)

Cannabis oil is an extract from the cannabis plant, with varying concentrations depending on the specific plants the oil comes from, usually suspended in a carrier oil.


They refer to the cannabinoids naturally present in plants (cannabis sativa and others). Please, compare with the term endocannabinoids (produced by the human body). Both interact with the endocannabinoid receptors.

Potential Total THC

To understand this concept, we need to talk about THCA, the acidic precursor of THC mainly found in Cannabis sativa. THCA can be converted to THC by heating, and the “potential total THC” refers to the sum of THC and THCA. Because THCA is converted to THC during the manufacturing process, the term is irrelevant for pharmaceutical purposes.


It refers to the process of harvesting, drying, curing, trimming, and separating parts of the plant by manual or mechanical means.

Psychoactive drug

A drug or substance that affects how the brain works, causing changes in mood, awareness, thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviours.

Recreational cannabis use

It implies the use of cannabis for reasons other than medicinal use. See also the term adult use.

Route of administration

It refers to the way a drug enters the human body. It can refer to oral administration, topical administration, injection, or inhalation.

This concept has a significant influence on onset, intensity, and duration of the desired and undesired effects of a drug.


Please, see cannabis sativa, and hybrid.


It refers to what happens to an individual cannabis plant (from seed and cultivation, growth, harvest, and preparation until the

finished product).

Sprays (Oral sprays)

Liquid form of medical cannabis that can be sprayed under the tongue.


It is a chemical process created to guarantee a defined concentration of an active ingredient in an extract or medicinal herbal preparation. In medicinal cannabis, usually the content in THC and CBD are standardized, in contrast to the other potentially pharmacologically active ingredients.


Strains is the colloquial term for cultivar that is commonly used in the cannabis industry to describe the different species or subfamilies of cannabis. Please, check the terms cultivar, hybrid, and chemovar.

Synthetic Cannabinoids (SCB)

These are molecules synthesized in the laboratory to influence the endocannabinoid system in a selective eay. The vast majority imitates the activity of THC. Please, compare the terms: endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids.


Terpenes are fragrant light oils without colour, produced by some insects and many plants (like cannabis sativa). There are many terpenes with potential pharmacological effects, modulating the effect of phytocannabinoids. In medicinal cannabis products, the terpenes and their composition (qualitative and quantitative) are important for the entourage effect.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) (THC)

Is a cannabinoid found in cannabis. THC is the most well-known molecule in cannabis . It is accounted for most of the psychoactive effects of cannabis.

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA)

It is the most abundant cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It is decarboxylated and formed into THC by vaporizing, heating, or smoking. See also potential total THC.

Topical medication

Topical medications are the ones applied to a specific body surface, such as the skin or mucous membranes. In topical administration, we’re likely to find products such as creams, gels, lotions, and sprays.


Transdermal absorption is a way of taking in medicine through the skin, rather than ingesting or inhaling. Unlike topicals, which are designed to impact the skin and local area it is applied to, transdermal options are designed to absorb through the skin into your bloodstream for effects.


It refers to the crystalized glands of the cannabis plant that produce resin (the parts containing the most cannabinoids).

Vape cartridge

It is a pre-filled product that contains a highly concentrated cannabis product meant for vaporization.


It is a route of administration, where vapor (and not smoke) is inhaled. With a vaporizing device (vaporizer), cannabis flowers or purified extracts are heated to a temperature above 100 ºC, but below the point of combustion.


It’s an electronic device that is meant for the inhalation or vaping of cannabis products.


This generalized information is a limited summary of medication information. It does not include all information about conditions, treatments, medications, side effects, or risks that may apply to a specific patient. This information does not endorse any treatments or medications as safe, effective, or approved for treating a specific patient.

All content on this glossary is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal guidance.