Medicinal Cannabis Terminology (in simple terms)

The world of cannabis can be confusing, not to mention overwhelming. This primer of terms is designed to help you understand terminology used in the industry.


Pot Shop
A location where marijuana is dispensed or sold, with or without a recommendation, without
product guidance and without common sense
operational practices.

Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary, Cooperative or Collective
A professional establishment that currently dispenses cannabis pursuant to the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Proposition 215), found at Section 11362.5 of the Health and Safety Code and operates with common sense business practices.

Cooperative or Collective
State law explicitly allows distribution of medical marijuana through non-profit “collectives” or “cooperatives.” This is the way Prop 215 compliant dispensaries are organized.

A person who sells unlabeled, untested marijuana on the street, in the alley and at schools to any person who will buy it.

Physician’s Recommendation or Recommendation
“Physician’s recommendation” means a recommendation by a physician that a patient use cannabis provided in accordance with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Proposition 215), found at Section 11362.5 of the Health and Safety Code.

Cannabis is classified by the federal government as a Schedule I drug and doctors are unable to prescribe it to their patients. But physicians can recommend its use.

Cannabis or MMJ Patient
Term used widely in the cannabis industry to define a cannabis recommendation holder.

Qualified Patient
A person who possesses a valid California medical cannabis recommendation

A person who holds a valid California medical cannabis recommendation and is part of a cooperative or collective. Medicinal cannabis dispensaries generally do not refer to those they serve as customers, but as patients, members or patient members.

The act of confirming that a medicinal cannabis recommendation is valid. This is done via a web portal or by telephone. Both the recommendation and the status of the license of the doctor issuing the recommendation are verified.

The act of verifying that a medicinal cannabis recommendation is valid, prior to engaging with a potential member. See verification.

Industry term used to confirm that a person is a qualified cannabis patient, is a resident of the state, is 21 or over and general questions to guide the converesation including experience level, reasons for use, therapy comfort, among others.

In-Person Dispensing
Selecting and receiving cannabis products at a dispensary and taking home the products.

Delivery Service
Act of delivering medicinal cannabis products ordered by phone or electronically to qualified patients at their home or office.

Dosing Guidance
The act of providing guidance with respect to how much, or usually how little, of a cannabis product to use.

Cannabis Therapies
Cannabis therapies or delivery methods are the various way a person can use cannabis. Delivery
methods include inhalation, sub-lingual, ingestible, topical, trans-dermal and anal.


The accepted botanical Genus name for the plant we know by so many other slang and colloquial terms.

Hemp or industrial hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant species that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products. Hemp does not have the same medicinal characteristics as cannabis.

Slang for Cannabis.

Pot, Weed, Buds, Gangja, Maryjane, Grass, Dope
Slang for Cannabis.

Cannabinoids are the primary active compounds in a cannabis plant and have numerous synergistic
interactions with one another. The most well known are:

Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the most well known cannabinoid and the most psychoactive. THC has the ability to alter behavior, mood, perception and consciousness. THC is a natural analgesic, appetite stimulant, bronchial dilator and reduces intra-ocular pressure.

Cannabidiol or CBD is not psychoactive. Studies have shown it to have anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, anti-nausea, neuroprotective, blood pressure lowering and pain killing properties among many others. While CBD tempers the effects of THC, it also needs it to fully activate.

Terpenoids or Terpenes
The essential oils that are naturally occurring in all plants. Just like lavender, rosemary and lemons have a distinct aroma and contain specific medicinal value, cannabis too has unique terpene profiles.

Flavonoids that are unique to cannabis are called cannaflavins, and they are pharmacologically
active. For example, cannaflavin A has been found to reduce inflammation by inhibiting the inflammatory molecule PGE-2, and it does this 30 times more effectively than aspirin. In addition,
flavonoids modulate the effects of THC.

Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
The endogenous cannabinoid system is one of two chemical systems in the human body that have survived more than 500 million years of human evolution. Although an understanding of the
endogenous cannabinoid system is far from
complete, two human receptors, CB1 and CB2, have currently been defined and a third receptor GPR55, is in the process of being characterized.

The job of the ECS is to regulate the flow of signals that are being sent between cells with the goal of maintaining balance, or homeostasis. Endocannabinoids are made and released by your cells on demand as a response to a trigger. Triggers include injury, illness, inflammation or other imbalances. The ECS determines how your cells try to right themselves when something goes wrong and
imbalance occurs.

Simply put, compounds in cannabis can stimulate our natural ECS and help us to regain balance.



Prop 215
Otherwise known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, is a California law allowing for the use and possession of cannabis for medicinal purposes. It was enacted, on November 5, 1996, by means of the initiative process, and passed with 5,382,915 (55.6%) votes in favor and 4,301,960 (44.4%) against.

SB 420
Passed into law in 2003, It clarified the scope and application of California Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, and established the California medical marijuana program. The bill’s title is notable because “420” is a common phrase used in cannabis culture.

Prop 64
The adult use of Marijuana act, which passed by 57.13% of the vote. Proposition 64 made it legal for individuals to use and grow marijuana for personal use on November 9, 2016. The sale and taxation of recreational marijuana went into effect on January 1, 2018.