Cannabinoids are compounds found almost exclusively in Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Some of the principal ones are shown below, along with their chemical formulas and structures. More than 85 different cannabinoids have been identified in marijuana, but the predominant one is delta-9 THCA, typically found at levels of a few per cent, but sometimes much higher. When heated, delta-9 THCA is converted to delta-9 THC, more commonly known simply as “THC”. This is the primary psychoactive substance in marijuana. Another important cannabinoid is cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD affects the body differently than THC, producing less euphoria (“high”) but instead more of a feeling of lethargy (“stoned”). Many of the cannabinoids exist in the plant as the “A form” (acid form), but are easily converted into the decarboxylated form by heating. The medical effects of the various cannabinoids are being intensively studied.
Terpenes are hydrocarbon compounds that impart flavor and fragrance to plants. Terpenes are common throughout the plant world. In fact, some of the terpenes found in marijuana are also found in more familiar plants: limonene in citrus, pinene in pine trees, etc. Although the terpenes are not thought to be psychoactive, they do contribute to the pleasurable perceptions of marijuana when vaporized. The combined effect of the various terpenes in marijuana is sometimes called the “entourage effect”. It should be noted that, unlike terpenes, cannabinoids themselves have little or no smell; the smell detected by drug-sniffing dogs is actually due to the terpenoid caryophyllene oxide. The 18 terpenes included in our Terpene Profile test are alpha- and beta-pinene, camphene, beta-myrcene, delta-3-carene, alpha-terpinene, ocimene (1 and 2), limonene, p-cymene, eucalyptol, gamma-terpinene, terpinolene, linalool, isopulegol, geraniol, beta-caryophyllene, and alpha-humulene.
“Cannabis sativa (Köhler)” by Hermann Adolf Köhler (1834 – 1879) – http://caliban.mpiz-koeln.mpg.de/koehler (index)http://caliban.mpiz-koeln.mpg.de/koehler/CANNABIS.jpg (image). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.