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Hemp Glossary

Information provided on this page is provided for educational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as legal opinion.



Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018

Also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, this Act was signed into law on December 20, 2018 and contained provisions federally legalizing hemp by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. The USDA is responsible for implementing its own hemp program that states may participate in, or for approving state-developed hemp programs submitted to it. More Information


Agricultural Act of 2014

Also known as the 2014 Farm Bill, this Act was signed into law on February 7, 2014 and contained provisions establishing the “legitimacy of industrial hemp research.” Unlike the 2018 Farm Bill, the 2014 Farm Bill did not legalize hemp under the federal Controlled Substances Act, nor did it expressly allow the commercialization of hemp as an agricultural product. Instead, the 2014 Farm Bill merely allowed for the growth and cultivation of industrial hemp for research under state agricultural pilot programs. 113th Congress, H.R. 2642, Sec. 7606; More Information



Broad Spectrum Extract

An extract that still contains a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes, but does not contain Delta-9 THC. More Information



Cannabidiol, CBD

The most common non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Most hemp strains are low in THC but high in CBD. The FDA has approved one medication containing CBD, Epidiolex®, for treatment of certain types of epilepsy, though many people use it for pain management and anxiety. More Information


Cannabigerol, CBG

A non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in small amounts in the cannabis plant. Emerging scientific data about CBG indicates its potential effectiveness as an anti-bacterial agent, vasodilator, appetite stimulant, and even a cancer treatment. Cannabigerolic Acid (CBGA) forms the precursor to the other main cannabinoids, THC, CBD, and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA). More Information


Cannabinoid, Phyocannabinoid, Endocannabinoid

A class of fat-soluble molecules that interact with the endocannabinoid system in humans. “Cannabinoid” is often used to refer to any in the group of active chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant, which includes tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol.  However, it is more accurate to say that these are phytocannabinoids because they are produced in plants. Endocannabinoids are those produced in animals (including humans). Over 100 cannabinoids have been identified as present in the cannabis plant. More Information


Cannabinol, CBN

A non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in small amounts in the cannabis plant. CBN is created naturally from THC over time. Like other cannabinoids, CBN has potential for treatment of inflammation and as an antibacterial agent. More Information


Cannabivarin, CBV

A non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in small amounts in the cannabis plant. CBV is the second-most abundant cannabinoid behind CBD, though not much is known about its potential benefits. More Information



Usually used to refer to the plant Cannabis Sativa L. Cannabis Sativa L. is grown for use as marijuana or hemp depending on the concentration of Delta-9 THC. Broad use of the word cannabis to refer to either marijuana or hemp has become increasingly inaccurate given the very particular legal status of each.


Controlled Substances Act (CSA) - Federal

Passed as part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 under President Richard Nixon. The CSA classifies certain drugs into five schedules. Drugs in Schedule I are the most heavily controlled and are classified as having no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse. Drugs in Schedule V are far less restricted and are classified as having a recognized medical use and low potential for abuse. The CSA is based in part on the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, a United Nations treaty designed to prohibit the production and supply of certain drugs outside limited exceptions. More Information


Controlled Substances Act (CSA) – State

State CSAs closely follow the structure and mandates of the federal CSA. In Colorado, marijuana is defined as “all parts of the plant cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not, the seeds thereof, the resin extracted from any part of the plant, and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds, or its resin. It does not include fiber produced from the stalks, oil, or cake made from the seeds of the plant, or sterilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination.” The definition also explicitly does not include hemp as defined in Colorado’s agricultural code. C.R.S. § 18-18-102(18)

Crude Oil

The first product created by any method of extraction used on the hemp plant. Crude oil contains the entire makeup of the plant, including all of the cannabinoids, vitamins, and minerals. More Information




The process of “activating” the compounds in the cannabis plant with the use of heat. Cannabinoids naturally occur abundantly in their acid form (e.g. cannabidiolic acid or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), the molecular structure of which has a group of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms called a carboxyl group. Decarboxylation involves using heat to remove the carboxyl group from the rest of the molecule by breaking the chemical bond between them. The resulting molecule is the non-acid, toxicologically active form of the cannabinoid, like CBD or THC. More Information


Delta-8 THC, ∆8-THC

A less-psychoactive form of THC that occurs in low levels in the cannabis plant. Delta-8 THC is obtained in usable quantities through isomerization of CBD and is used medicinally by those who wish to avoid the stronger psychotropic effects of Delta-9 THC. More Information


Delta-9 THC, ∆9-THC

The primary psychoactive form of THC responsible for giving marijuana its high. When someone refers to THC, they are usually referring to Delta-9 THC.



A substance or compound derived from another. Under the definition of hemp, all hemp derivatives are legal (because they are exempt from the Controlled Substances Act). See Hemp.



A refined form of a cannabinoid that is less pure than an isolate but purer than crude oil or full spectrum extract. A distillate will contain large quantities of a desired cannabinoid, such as CBD, but will also contain trace amounts of other cannabinoids and terpenes. More Information



Entourage Effect, Ensemble Effect

The apparent increase in effectiveness of cannabinoids and other compounds found in the cannabis plant when taken or used together. In other words, terpenes and cannabinoids support the function of one other and enhance their effectiveness. More Information



The process of extracting CBD or other cannabinoids from raw cannabis plant material. The general process involves passing a solvent through the raw plant material. The solvent mixes with the cannabinoids in the plant and is later refined into distillate or isolate. Popular solvents include supercritical CO2, ethanol, hydrocarbons, or fats (such as coconut oil), with varying degrees of effectiveness. More Information



2014 Farm Bill

See Agriculture Act of 2014.


2018 Farm Bill

See Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018.


Full Spectrum Extract, Full Spectrum Distillate

A refined extract that contains large quantities of a desired cannabinoid like CBD, along with an array of other compounds found in the cannabis plant, including any naturally occurring vitamins and terpenes. Like isolates and distillates, full spectrum extracts may be THC-free, but more often will contain a very small amount (less than 0.3% concentration). More Information



Gas Chromatography

A sample testing method used alternatively to liquid chromatography. A sample is introduced to a carrier gas that takes the sample through the column, where the constituent components are analyzed by a detector. The process is similar to that of liquid chromatography, with the biggest difference being the use of a gas rather than a liquid solvent. More Information




Hemp is particularly difficult to harvest. A farmer growing the hemp for its CBD content has to be careful not to damage the delicate flowers containing the trichomes. As a result, combine harvesting is usually not an option and most hemp plants must be harvested by hand. Harvesting is generally done during the months of September, October, and November depending on the region in which the hemp is grown. More Information



Under federal and most state laws, hemp is “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 THC concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.” Although hemp and marijuana are often erroneously referred to as “cousins,” they are actually the same plant; hemp is just distinguished as having a very low concentration of THC. 7 U.S.C. § 1639o(1).


Hemp Extract, Hemp Oil

An oil extract created by pressing seeds of the hemp plant.


“Hot” Hemp

Hemp that has tested above the 0.3% THC concentration threshold established by federal law. Hemp that exceeds this threshold (thereby technically becoming marijuana under the law), is referred to as “hot” because it is illegal and non-compliant as hemp.




The most refined form of a particular cannabinoid, with all undesired cannabinoids and terpenes filtered out. CBD isolate is popular for use in edibles, oils, and other products. More Information



A molecular compound with the same chemical formula as another compound, but a different molecular structure. CBD (C21H30O2) is an isomer of THC (C21H30O2). More Information



The process of chemically transforming one molecule into its isomer. Because CBD is abundant and Delta-8 THC occurs naturally only in low levels, Delta-8 THC is often isomerized from CBD. More Information



Liquid Chromatography, High Performance Liquid Chromatography

A scientific technique used to separate the components of a mixture. In the context of hemp and marijuana, liquid chromatography is a good method for testing the cannabinoid concentrations of a particular sample. The liquid chromatography process involves using a solvent (typically methanol) to send a constant rate of the sample through a “column” where the chromatography machine measures the constituent components of the sample and sends the results to a computer. High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) follows the same process, though it uses a high-pressure system rather than gravity to move the solvent containing the sample. More Information



Marijuana, Marihuana

Under both State and Federal law, marijuana is any Cannabis sativa L. plant with more than 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis. High-THC strains of marijuana are usually in the neighborhood of 15% THC or more. Marijuana is strictly regulated in states where it is illegal and remains a Schedule I controlled substance in the eyes of the federal government. Botanically, marijuana is the same plant as hemp. See Hemp. More Information


Mother Liquor

The liquid solution left behind after the crystallization process used to purify CBD oil. Crystallization utilizes a boiling solvent to crystallize a desired compound, like CBD, and remove it from the original substance. After the crystals are removed, the remaining liquid solution is the mother liquor. More Information [1] , [2]




There is currently no legal definition of “synthetic” in either state or federal controlled substance law. In chemistry, the term broadly includes “chemical compounds produced in a laboratory.[1] In the law however, this definition is not consistent with the intent of certain federal laws, in particular the 2018 Farm Bill. See Synthetic Cannabinoid. More Information


Synthetic Cannabinoid

A man-made chemical designed to mimic the psychotropic effects of naturally occurring cannabinoids like THC. Synthetic cannabinoids like Spice or K2 are harshly regulated by the DEA and remain controlled under the CSA. There is no legal definition of what makes a cannabinoid “synthetic.” More Information




The oils in the trichomes of the cannabis plant that give each strain a distinct flavor. There is also some indication that the presence of terpenes may contribute to the effectiveness of the other cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. More Information


Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC

The group of psychoactive cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.


Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid, THCA

A non-psychoactive precursor to THC that occurs naturally in the cannabis plant. More Information


Tetrahydrocannbivarin, THCV

A potentially psychoactive cannabinoid that occurs only in small amounts. More Information


THC Remediation

The reduction of THC content, usually through a chemical separation process called chromatography. Remediation is an important tool for hemp producers whose hemp crops exceed the THC limit for hemp. More Information



An extract of plant or animal material dissolved in a substrate. Tinctures containing CBD or hemp oil are usually taken sublingually.


Total THC, THCmax

The measurement of total THC content contained in the plant material being tested, using the following formula: Total THC = %THC + (%THCA * 0.877). This measurement includes the concentration of THCA because THCA can become THC through decarboxylation or over time. The 0.877 multiplier (also called a “chromatography factor”) is based on the molecular weight of the THCA molecule. The carboxyl group in THCA accounts for roughly 12% of the molecule’s total weight leaving roughly 87.7% of the molecule as regular THC. Multiplying by 0.877 adjusts the %THCA to match the THC content of the THCA molecule. More Information



Small, crystalline plant structures that produce cannabinoids and terpenes. They are found near the top of the plant and look like frost. In nature, the trichomes serve as a defense mechanism. More Information

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