A Guide to Cannabis Cannabinoids

Marijuana, cannabis, CBD, and THC are just a few of the many terms cannabis users have had to become familiar with when navigating this new and often-legal world of marijuana. Just when you think you have a basic understanding of marijuana, a new cannabinoid is discovered, or a new CBD product hits the market.

Whether you’re brushing up on your cannabis knowledge for fun or are interested in understanding the differences between cannabis cannabinoids to make better purchases, you’re in the right place. We’ve created a helpful guide for some of the most commonly found cannabinoids in cannabis.

What Is a Cannabinoid?

While you can click here to start familiarizing yourself with one of the lesser-known cannabinoids, HHC, it might not make much sense unless you understand what a cannabinoid actually is. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds naturally produced by cannabis plants.

Scientists have isolated more than 100 different cannabinoids, many of which interact with the receptors in our cells in different ways. As a result, researchers have found that some might be beneficial for various diseases and symptoms, but some serve no real purpose for us at all.


Source: herbzdepot.com

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of the most well-known cannabinoids. It tends to be more well-known than others because it’s one of the few that are psychoactive. Many people consuming cannabis products or dried flower experience euphoric sensations often referred to as a ‘high.’

For recreational cannabis users, THC is the most desirable cannabinoid. It often allows us to experience euphoric sensations by binding to our brains’ CB1 receptors. As a result, users often experience changes in their memory, mood, cognition, and perception, just to name a few.


CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is by far the most widely researched cannabinoid of them all. It was one of the first to be discovered in the marijuana plant and didn’t boast any of the same psychoactive effects of THC. However, it does seem to be able to counteract THC’s cognitive effects.

Its lack of psychoactive effects often makes CBD desirable for people wanting a more natural treatment option for their ailments. While studies are still in their infancy regarding CBD’s benefits and effects, it has so far proved promising.

2017 Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry study showed that people who received 300mg of CBD had reduced anxiety during a speech test than those who received the placebo. It has also received FDA approval under the brand name Epidiolex for treating two rare forms of epilepsy. Some people even experience relief from PTSD symptoms, ALS symptoms, and pain. The more we examine this curious cannabinoid, the more we learn about its potential value in the medical world, and the more people might receive the help they need.


Source: leafwell.com

CBC, or cannabichromene, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid like CBD. However, rather than counteracting the cognitive effects of THC, THC seems to enhance the anti-inflammatory effects of CBC. Researchers call this the ensemble effect, in which how effective one cannabinoid is can depend on how it interacts with others.

Due to the interactions between THC and CBC, researchers believe CBC might have many desirable anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and anti-fungal properties, potentially making it a suitable cannabinoid for topicals.


Cannabigerol, more commonly known as CBG or ‘the mother cannabinoid,’ is only found in very small amounts of about 1% in most mature cannabis plants. While mature plants produce cannabigerol in abundance, it’s quickly converted into other cannabinoids like THC and CBD. It might not be a cannabinoid we use in cannabis products, but it’s important because it seems to be responsible for creating those cannabinoids in the first place.

Scientists are also looking at CBG’s potential for cancer treatment. According to studies, CBG was reported to reduce cell proliferation in some cancer cell lines, like gastric adenocarcinoma, prostate cancer, and breast cancer.


Source: forbes.com

CBN, or cannabinol, is not a cannabinoid that cannabis directly synthesizes. Instead, this cannabinoid is a breakdown product of THC. When not properly stored, you may find that your older dried cannabis flower products will contain more CBN than THC. With exposure to oxygen and time, the THC starts to break down.

However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Researchers have been looking at the effects of CBN when combined with THC. They believe it might have many desirable responses against seizures, pain, and inflammation.


HHC isn’t typically known as a natural cannabinoid from the cannabis plant. Instead, it’s well-known as one of the first synthetic cannabinoids to be produced. It’s related to Delta-9 THC and has similar effects, but it’s generally only available in small quantities in cannabis hemp and is typically made by hydrogenating THC.

HHC is believed to have psychoactive effects similar to THC. However, as this cannabinoid is often used in synthetic cannabis products, the effects can be intense and, sometimes, even harmful. Most reputable cannabis product stores will not sell products containing HHC.


Source: bloommedicinals.com

THCA is tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, known as one of the most readily available non-psychoactive cannabinoids in cannabis plants. It’s also the precursor of THC. Essentially, THCA is THC’s acidic form. When cannabis plants mature, and their buds grow, cannabinoids and terpenes develop. The first cannabinoid to develop is CBGA, which then breaks down and produces THCA, CBDA, and other primary cannabinoids.

Unlike some other cannabinoids, THCA has an extra molecular carboxyl ring. This stops it from binding to our brain’s receptors, which means we don’t experience euphoric feelings. It’s easy to assume that THCA serves no purpose for recreational users since it can’t make you high, but we wouldn’t have THC if it weren’t for cannabis plants first producing THCA. What’s more, scientists are optimistic about this cannabinoid’s benefits, especially for people on weight loss journeys. Current research suggests that THCA-A might prevent metabolic disease caused by diet-induced obesity.

It can take some time to familiarize yourself with the many different cannabis-related terms. There are also no guarantees that you’ll ever learn all of them. However, when you learn about some of the most common ones, you might be able to make more well-informed decisions regarding the products you buy and the ingredients you ingest.