Pot Facts: The ABCs of Cannabis

Cannabis has been making local headlines now that Pennsylvania's medical program is slated to debut early next year. But not everyone is familiar with the basic terminology behind the state's next big industry. Here is a breakdown of the words and terms you might start hearing.

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AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - FEBRUARY 07: A cannabis plant grows in the Amsterdam Cannabis College, a non profit charitable organisation that gives information on cannabis and hemp use on February 7, 2007 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The city council in Amsterdam has recently voted in favour of introducing a citywide ban on smoking marijuana in public areas. A successful trial ban in the De Baarsjes district of Amsterdam has been declared a success after a reduction in anti social behaviour. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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A tall flowering plant indigenous to tropical and temperate climates. Popular varieties of the plant are cannabis sativa and cannabis indica, both of which contain psychoactive properties that produce euphoria. The cannabis plant can be used for marijuana or hemp. It can be grown outdoors, indoors or using hydroponic technology.
Marijuana refers to the dried, crushed flower tops and leaves of the cannabis plant that can be smoked, baked or turned into other digestible forms to produce a high.
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Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is a chemical compound found in cannabis that creates the high often associated with marijuana. Scientifically speaking, THC is a cannabinoid, naturally occurring compounds that interact with receptors in the brain to create said high. Researchers throughout the world are still working to understand how many cannabinoids exist, but theories range from the dozens to possibly hundreds.
Kathy Young/AP
Cannabidiol is the sister compound to THC and does not contain psychoactive properties. In other words, it does not get people high. Instead, CBD can be turned into medicine to treat chronic pain, symptoms associated with cancer, epilepsy and a host of other conditions. Epidiolex, pictured here, is used in the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, a debilitating form of early onset childhood epilepsy.
Alicia Lozano
Hemp is a member of the cannabis sativa family that does not produce euphoria. Instead, the plant has historically been used in farming, manufacturing and cooking. It was considered a lucrative cash crop when the country was first founded.
No longer a fringe concept, medical marijuana is now legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Pennsylvania's program will debut early in 2018, but Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and New York already have laws on the books. In Pennsylvania, only patients with qualifying conditions will be eligible for acquire their medicine. It cannot be in plant form.
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Adult use recreational marijuana is now legal in eight states — Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts — and the District of Columbia. Delaware and New Jersey are both weighing upgrading their medical programs to include recreational use for adults over the age of 21.
San Francisco Department of Health via AP
Cannabis can be used as an ingredient in edible treats, like these gummy rings. They can either contain THC to get people high or CBD to treat medical conditions. Dispensaries usually offer both, but it's imperative that patients ask about THC levels before buying an unfamiliar product. Edibles will be available to qualifying patients in Pennsylvania's new medical marijuana program.
AP/David Goldman
Cannabis oil, either THC or CBD-based, is another popular form of ingesting medicinal marijuana. It can be administered directly to the mouth or added to food.
Similar to oil, tinctures come in liquid form and can be added to food or ingested directly. Tinctures are made from cannabis extract diluted with small amounts of alcohol. They can also be made using glycerin and water instead of alcohol.
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