So, you know your cannabis products, you know your clients, but do you really know what you are dealing with? Do you know the molecular structure of the Tetrahydrocannabivarin cannabinoid? Do you know what the genetic precursor of THC is? Do you know if THCa is psychoactive? Do you want to know the answer to these questions and more? Come.. let’s continue.

Educate Yourself

Throughout Cannabinist 101 you’ve seen places that have referred to knowledge of cannabinoids or genetics of certain strains. To get that knowledge you will have to research genetics and cannabinoids. This section will show you where to look for your answers.

There are a multitude of resources you can find online, free of charge, to educate yourself on what you need to know to become a Cannabinist. Like with everything else online, the problem is finding the reliable information and distinguishing it from the rubble. Let’s go over some verified resources you can use to get the information you need.


If you don’t know what the difference is between a strain of Jack Herer and an OG pheno, someone could call anything whatever they want to and you would be none the wiser. The best way to get to know each strain is to be around it. When that new one comes into your dispensary, check it out! See the characteristics that stand out and make it what it is. In the mean time though, here are a few key sites to check out when referring to genetics of a plant. I’ve provided a link and a summary of each of the sites. Some of good qualities and bad qualities.. like all things internet.


Leafly’ Cannabis 101 is an amazing resource for all things cannabis including: genetics, strains, grow styles and a myriad of others. Check them out here

Pot Guide

Pot Guide continues to expand their library of strains and genetics, so their information is up to date and quite useful to find basic information on strains including Indica/Sativa leaning.


Oh, did I already say Leafly? Seriously, these guys have completely taken off since their inception around a decade ago. I remember getting boxes of their swag back at the dispensary I was managing and it really made an impact on how our clients and employees thought of them and their mission.

They have a great breakdown of strains by symptom, flavor/terpene and by mood as well as having a list of the most popular strains available! Check out their database here.


And the last piece of the puzzle is the science behind what we do. Check out these links to get the information you need to back up what you say to your patients and really get out there and accurately help some people!


There are 7 cannabinoids that are prolific throughout the cannabis plant as of this writing. If you can understand the relationship of these molecules to each other, and their synergy with the terpenes of the cannabis plant, you will have a leg up on most of your fellow Budtenders. A lot of science is being done to advance the knowledge we have about cannabis, so the information contained in this section could become outdated in the future. Be sure to do your own research and make sure you keep up to date on the science that’s happening.

Now, of the 7 main cannabinoids, there are 3 that you will be dealing with the most when tending the buds to your clients. Let’s start there:

Total THC- The formula for calculating Total THC is (THCa mg * 0.877 + THC). Total THC is the common formula used to calculate and label the cannabinoid content on cannabis products throughout the industry. Total THC will give you a great idea of the potency of a product. You can combine your knowledge of cannabis products and how they appeal to clients with the potency of the labeled cannabinoid content to really drive home how a product will affect someone. A 70/30 sativa leaning product will definitely have more stimulating affects and the feelings that the product gives you will generally be more cerebrally located.

Total CBD- Similar to Total THC, Total CBD is used to calculate and label CBD content on cannabid products in the industry. Also, just like Total THC, the formula is the same (CBDa mg * 0.877 + CBD) Unlike Total THC, CBD is not psychoactive in the same way, so the similarities stop at the calculation. CBD brings de-stressing components with it as well as a feeling that everything is going to be ok. It can be used to counteract the paranoia feelings caused by THC, can be used for an end of the day de-stresser with no psycho activity, can help people relax and sleep while also being effective in helping clients relieve pain and anxiety from their day to day activities. It truly is a wonderful cannabinoid.

CBN- CBN or Cannabinol, is a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. This molecule is the result of a breakdown within the THC molecule, so it is a great gauge to see how well something has been cured and stored. As far as the effect on the body, our experience is that a product that has a high CBN content is very un-motivating and sedative, no matter the S/I leaning. A Sativa leaning cannabis product with a high CBN content (>5%) will typically give you a heavy head instead of the happy and motivated feeling you’re used to with your Sativa based products, whereas an Indica with a high CBN content will definitely leave you sedated and ready for bed.

The other four cannabinoids are important because they are the only other cannabinoids that are prolific throughout the cannabis plant, but they are much less cared about than the big three. You can find thorough breakdowns of these cannabinoids anywhere you find good cannabis information, Leafly, Weedmaps, California Cannabis Labs, there’s plenty of options out there. Here is a brief breakdown for your knowledge:

THCa- THCa is the acidic form of THC. When a cannabinoid heavy plant is grown, the THCa is what you see in the trichome glands on the buds of the plant. Although completely non-psychoactive on it’s own, when this molecule is heated, it decarboxylates into Delta 9 THC, the psychoactive part of the cannabis plant. When a cannabis product is tested, the THCa is measured and added to the THC using the calculation breakdown noted above in the Total THC section.

CBDa- CBDa is the acidic form of CBD. It is used in pretty much the same way the THCa is used, with a different form of psychoactivity.

CBG- CBG (Cannabigerol) is the genetic precursor to THC in the cannabis plant. As a cannabis plant is growing, the CBG will convert in THCa and result in the resin glands that you see when a cannabis plant is growing. While non-psychoactive in it’s own right, there are some researchers out there claiming to find some topical benefits when dealing with the CBG molecule.

CBC- CBC (Cannabichromene) is another lesser known cannabinoid on the cannabis plant. It has shown some promise in topical products as it is anti-bacterial and can be used to treat pscoriosis as well as arthritis. You should see CBC products begin to be more known and produced as the cannabis industry continues to grow and receive funding to research these lesser known cannabinoids.

Bonus: The Barbie Cannabinoid

There is one cannabinoid that has really taken off the more people hear about it. This molecule is THCV or Tetrahydrocannabivarin and it is one of the most interesting cannabinoids you can find or research. You see, THCV has a lot of the medicinal components of THC, but it has very little psycho activity, except in very high amounts. There is one quirky thing about this cannabinoid that is the most interesting though, it actually has an anti-appetite effect. When you smoke something that has a good amount of THCV, you will NOT get the munchies. Hence the name, Barbie Cannabinoid, this is a highly sought after cannabinoid, especially for people that want to avoid raiding the fridge because they’re watching their waistline. Be on the lookout for more THVC heavy products in the future as they should be more prominent as we learn more about it.

Terpenes and Flavinoids

Terpenes are the hottest topic in the cannabis industry right now. Producers are bent on getting the most terpenoid content into their flowers as well as the concentrates and other products made from those flowers.

We could spend all day covering the research behind terpenes, or you can just check out Leafly and their coverage. Check it out here

Taking all of the information you have learned in the other sections and combining that with the resources in this section should leave you feeling confident with any situation you come across as a Cannabinist. Check out the Q/A section to see if you have retained enough information to help out in various situations you might run in to at the dispensary.