Hemp, CBD, THC, Marijuana: Oh My! Terminology of the Sacred Plant

Hemp, CBD, THC, Marijuana: Oh My! Terminology of the Sacred Plant

Updated on 4/10/2019, 5:46:17 PM

Along with the medical marijuana movement in Missouri comes an influx of new vocabulary, too! Hemp, CBD, cannabis, medical marijuana: what is the difference between these and what do you need?

When one understands what these words mean, one can start to make better decisions and choices for his or her medical needs.

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All in the Family

Cannabis refers to the plant family that contains different species with different phytocannabinoid ratios that are now seen to produce varied effects in the body. In this family, two commonly known species in this plant family are Hemp and Marijuana (a popular slang term).

Think of differing species within a plant family like differing genes in siblings or cousins within a human family. Or, you may be more familiar with differing species of plant families as it relates to essential oils, for example, German Chamomile and Roman Chamomile. The family (chamomile) has certain properties and functions regardless of what species expresses it, however, each species (German or Roman) may have a different expression of oils and properties that give varying medicinal benefits.  


Hemp is a species of the Cannabis family that tends to have different properties, and this species is commonly known as “marijuana.”

Hemp, by definition and law, has less than 0.3% THC, which is the psychoactive compound of the plant that can have varied and unwanted side effects.

The plant has about 20% CBD, or cannabidiol (see below for more on CBD), therefore, you can gain a larger percentage of the healing CBD compound, along with the other compounds of the plant (CBN, CBC, CBG, etc.) -- termed the “entourage effect” -- without worrying about the “high.”  

Hemp, by nature, is not a heavily flowering plant, therefore most phytocannabinoids (any cannabinoid that is naturally occurring within the cannabis family of plants) are obtained from leaves, stems, seeds, and the genetic makeup of the leaves, stems, seeds are greatly different than the flowering part of the hemp plant as well.

Being able to see percentages of phytocannabinoids that makeup the plant, similar to a supplement label, will be helpful to target treatment.  

Besides medicine, hemp has many other uses including textiles, industrial, construction and animal feed. Fun facts: back in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper and the early dollars were also printed on hemp.

Since prohibition, the use of plastics, synthetics, and crude oil has increased and we have seen the rates of chronic disease rise. We welcome hemp back into our lives and look forward to the new era of health.

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Although marijuana is a commonly- and colloquially-used word, the origin is slang in nature and possibly degrading to the Latin culture. It’s not the term that was originally used as medicine.  Marijuana was a made-up term, put together from the most common female name (“Mary”) and male (“Juan”) Hispanic names, when referring to that culture of “reefer madness.”

Marijuana has a higher percentage of THC -- the psychoactive part of the plant (see more about THC below), meaning it can alter your mental state or producing a “high.”

Marijuana is also a robustly flowering plant, therefore the oils, terpenes and phytocannabinoids from this plant will be more robust, rich or bioactive when obtained from a flowering plant or the “fruit.”

CBD / Cannabidiol

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid found in both Hemp and Marijuana which is found to interact with the endocannabinoid system in humans and animals.  CBD is not psycho-active, or will NOT make you intoxicated or “high”. CBD is showing healing and therapeutic effects in seizures, inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, pain, gut issues and more.  CBD is also known to counteract or “bring-down” the high when the consumption of THC is too much.

More research and anecdotal effects of CBD are being released daily now that it (CBD from hemp) is legal and the healing properties of the phytocannabinoids, therefore, different species of Hemp plant or strains can be tailored or chosen for different issues from neurological, immune, gut, bone, or mental health issues for customized medicine.  


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the well known phytocannabinoid found in marijuana which produces intoxicating or psychoactive effects. When smoked this is the substance that makes one high. A small amount is present in hemp (0.3%), however concentrations of over 20% are found in marijuana. THC is found to be anti-cancer, anti-nauseous, anti-pain and anti-viral. It also improves appetite and wasting syndromes. THC may be an important healing component, however only in microdoses and in the correct ratio balance with CBD and other phytocannabinoids.


Terpenes are aromatic metabolites found in plant oils (in all plants). Terpenes are responsible for the aroma, flavors and therapeutic properties of the plant.  There are more than 20,000 terpenes in existence and the cannabis plant produces at least 100. The presence and ratio of different terpenes can alter or boost the medicinal effects of the cannabis plant and be helpful in certain conditions.

Certain terpenes of the cannabis plant can provide additional medicinal benefits such as linalool.  Linalool is more commonly known as the “active ingredient” in the lavender herb or essential oil. Linalool is the chemical compound that has therapeutic properties of decreasing anxiety, improving mood, relaxing nerves and improving sleep.  Linalool is also naturally occurring in certain strains of cannabis plants.

While Missouri passed Amendment #2 and making “medical marijuana” legal in the state, the true medical term is Cannabis Medicine.  As we understand more about the make-up of the cannabis plant and all the bioactive phytocannabinoids we will be better able to balance our body in preventative healthcare as well as specifically target ratios, strains, modes of ingestion to treat various issues from seizures, hormonal, immune, mental health, pain and gut related issues.  What an exciting time for Missouri and what an exciting new form of healthcare!