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Cannabis Science, Therapeutics and Policy: Cannabis Terms and Concepts

A guide to resources on cannabis science and therapeutics available through the Harper College Library


The genus Cannabis is often divided into two species: C. sativa—the hemp varieties that sprout narrow leaves and grow tall—and C. indica, whose shorter stature, denser branches, and higher concentrations of psychoactive ingredients made it the choice for recreational and medicinal use.

Search Terms/Definitions related to Cannabis

  • Cannabinoid – any of the chemical compounds that are the active principles of hemp and/or marijuana.

  • CBD (Cannabidiol) - non-psychoactive cannabinoids that meet the federal industrial hemp definition of less  than 0.3 percent THC (see Cannabinoid).

  • Decriminalization - the act of making something that is illegal legal by changing the law.

  • Endocannabinoid system - a widespread neuromodulatory system that plays important roles in central nervous system (CNS) development, synaptic plasticity, and the response to endogenous and environmental insults.

  • Environmental impact - the effect proposed legislation or action will have on the natural and human environment.

  • Equity - justice according to natural law or right, specifically:  freedom from bias or favoritism.

  • Expungement - the destruction, obliteration, or striking out of records or information in files, computers, and other depositories (e.g., the expungement of a conviction for marijuana possession).

  • Hemp - Cultivated hemp is often distinguished from cannabis by possessing very low levels of the psychoactive substance.

  • Marijuana - the psychoactive dried resinous flower buds and leaves of the female hemp or cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica) that contain high levels of THC and are smoked, vaped, or ingested (as in baked goods) especially for their intoxicating effect.
  • Medical marijuana - a term for derivatives of the Cannabis sativa plant that are used to ease symptoms caused by certain medical conditions.
  • Racial justice - fair and just treatment of all members of all racial groups, such that equitable opportunities and outcomes are possible for all members of a society.
  • Recreational marijuana - any part of the cannabis plant, living or not, that is used as an intoxicant for the reason of enjoyment or pleasure.
  • Social justice - The objective of creating a fair and equal society in which each individual matters, their rights are recognized and protected, and decisions are made in ways that are fair and honest.
  • Terpenes (terpenoids) - significantly influence the flavor and smell of buds.  They can also amp up, change, or lower the intensity and duration of effects for strains.
  • THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – either of two physiologically active isomers C21H30O2 that occur naturally in hemp plant resin or are synthetically prepared.  One that is the chief intoxicant in marijuana and is used medicinally.  Also called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, delta-9-THC and one that is present in marijuana only in minute quantities.
  • War on drugs - the effort in the United States since the 1970s to combat illegal drug use by greatly increasing penalties, enforcement, and incarceration for drug offenders.

(As defined at,,,, the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute (, and


CBD (Cannabidiol)


Suggested Related Topics

Chemistry, effects and emerging therapeutic benefits for chronic pain and illness

  • Qualifying medical conditions​

Political and socio-economic influences on marijuana laws

Regulations/Implications surrounding cannabis

  • Business and Banking
  • Legal: Federal vs. State
  • Safety, Standardization, Quality Control
  • Synthetic vs plant-based products

Potential Economic Windfalls of Hemp, CBD, Marijuana

  • Big Business - Pharma ; Tobacco ; Alcohol 
  • Agriculture (2018 Farm Bill, also known as the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018)
  • Food & Beverage Companies
  • Entrepreneurs ; Business Ventures

Cannabis 101 (National Geographic via youtube)

Length: 2:37