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A Quick Breakdown of Cannabis Terms

Despite Oregon officially legalizing recreational and medicinal cannabis in 2014, weed’s terminology and categories intimidate many potential consumers. While we welcome questions at our cannabis dispensary, Greeley Gallery, we understand why some first-time consumers may hesitate before entering.

In the movies, there’s no variety when it comes to cannabis. The characters buy a bag of cannabis from their supplier and go on their way. But in real life, it’s good to know whether you’re purchasing an indica strain or sativa. Understanding the terminology of cannabis will help you feel more confident in your decision and help provide a positive experience.

Cannabis vs Marijuana vs Hemp

While even non-cannabis consumers generally know there’s a difference between marijuana and hemp, they rarely know exactly what it is. On the flip side, the terms marijuana and cannabis are often used interchangeably – while that’s generally fine, there is a slight distinction.

Cannabis technically refers to the plant species – sort of like how all trees are trees, but there are different types. Marijuana and hemp are two versions of the cannabis species. Hemp is a cannabis plant that has 0.3 percent or less THC, while marijuana is a cannabis plant that contains more than 0.3 percent THC.

In other words, marijuana plants can get you high while hemp products won’t. Instead, hemp plants have dozens of other uses, including a long list of medicinal benefits and a potional global solution for renewable sustainability that could help our planet.


Bear with us, we’re about a get a smidge technical. See, the cannabis plant has dozens of cannabinoids, which are compounds that interact with our endocannabinoid system. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most notable and well-known cannabinoids. Both hemp and marijuana plants contain CBD, but marijuana variations include higher levels of THC.

CBD won’t get you high – although if you consume too much, you may feel sleepy – it’s also known for its wide array of medicinal benefits. Although THC has its own lesser-known health benefits. Though THC is more well known for the psychoactive high it creates.

Indica vs Sativa

Remember we said that marijuana cannabis plants contain higher levels of THC than hemp plants? Well, Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica plants both contain THC and are variations of marijuana plants. When you hear of a “sativa strain,” it means cannabis flower, or oil, that came from a Cannabis Sativa plant.

Sativa plants are generally known to produce a stimulating mind-high, whereas indicas are nicknamed “in-da-couch” thanks to its relaxing body high. Although, the distinction between indica and sativa technically comes from the differences in the plants themselves rather than the high they produce.

For instance, the leaves of an indica cannabis plant have broad stumpy blades, whereas sativa leaves have long, thin blades. There are also differences in their buds – indicas are broader, bulkier, and denser, while sativa buds have a more sausage-like shape.

Final Thoughts

We know it can feel overwhelming to learn the terminology of cannabis but knowing the differences will give you more control over your experience. And your experience matters to us here at Greeley Gallery, which is why we only offer locally made, high-quality cannabis products.

If you’re new to the world of cannabis, we hope you’ll stop by, where our friendly and knowledgeable staff are happy to answer any questions or help you select the perfect product for you. You can find us on the corner of Greeley and Rosa Parks in north Portland.

Written By:

Katrina Paulson

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