If you’re new to the world of cannabis then you’ve likely encountered a great deal of bewildering lingo. From terpenes and trichomes to cannabinoids, 420, and dabbing, there’s a barrage of new concepts and language to wrap your head around. So with that in mind, let’s explore a cannabis fundamental by answering the question: What are cannabinoids?


Cannabinoids are organic compounds that are found in a number of plant species, but most notably in cannabis. These naturally occurring substances bind to a system of receptors found in our bodies known as the human endocannabinoid system <link article>, and are mostly responsible for the various effects cannabis can elicit. There are in fact hundreds of different cannabinoids found in cannabis, although the two most important ones are THC and CBD.


While there are a wide variety of cannabinoids present in cannabis, THC and CBD are the most abundant, and almost certainly the two you will hear the most about. THC is the main intoxicating cannabinoid responsible for getting you high, whereas CBD, like most others, is non-intoxicating. THC and CBD are the heavy lifters of cannabis and possess a wide variety of physiological effects, however, there’s a lot more to the story.


Cannabis is a powerhouse of cannabinoid production, and not just THC and CBD. So far, 144 different cannabinoids have been identified, with more being discovered as scientists delve deeper into the mysteries of this wonderful plant. Despite the majority of these other cannabinoids existing in very small amounts, each possesses unique effects of their own. For example, CBN has been shown to be a promising sleep aid, THCV can be a powerful appetite suppressant, and CBDV can abate nausea and vomiting.


What has become clear about the various components of cannabis – cannabinoids included – is that they all appear to operate together. This synergy is known as the entourage effect, and that means that no single cannabinoid works alone. CBD affects how THC functions and vice versa. In fact, cannabinoids not only interact with each other, but also with every other part of the plant. Meaning ultimately, cannabinoids are just a part of the grand tapestry of cannabis.