Knowledge Bud

Cannabis: Understanding It’s Science, Applications and Complex Legal Status

State legislation around cannabis and its applications is evolving with new understanding of the herb. Scientific study and product quality control have made laboratory testing an integral part of the rapidly evolving landscape. These findings and myth-debunking science have rapidly expanded cannabis and hemp applications. In response to these new understandings of the plants, a complex legal environment has created and varies across the globe. Now, in the 21st century, we see an expansion of legal recreational and holistic use of the herbs. But which are psychoactive, medicinal, and what are the overall differences and applications?

What You Need To Know About The Cannabis Plant & It’s Many Properties

Despite the common misconception, cannabis is a genus of flowering plant with many different species. The most common species are Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Its flowers secrete a substance containing naturally occurring compounds: cannabinoids, terpenes, triglycerides, and others. The most prevalent forms of cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). They exist in their acid forms, THCA and CBDA, with THC and CBD and are produced through the application of heat to the THCA and CBDA.

When done correctly, certain unique properties of cannabinoids emerge:

  • THC is the principal psychoactive component of cannabis
  • Non-psychoactive CBD is valued primarily for its holistic effects 
  • Holistic cannabis strains contain higher levels of CBD than THC 
  • Recreational strains may seek to maximize THC content to command a higher value, and contain lower levels of CBD
  • BUT CBD may influence the psychoactive properties of THC 

Several other cannabinoids present in the plant include:

  • Cannabinol (CBN)
  • Cannabigerol (CBG)
  • Cannabichromene (CBC)
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarion (THCV)
  • Cannabidivarin (CBDV)

Learn more about Cannabinoids.


Cannabis also contains over 200 terpenes.

A lab technician holds a flowered cannabis plant.
A lab technician holds a flowered cannabis plant.

Terpenes: Molecules composed of multiple isoprene units that produce distinctive aromas. These include a-pinene, limonene and myrcene. In addition to determining the sensory properties of cannabis, terpenes may enhance holistic benefits either alone or synergistically with other terpenes, THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids.

Learn more about Terpenes.


The complexity of the herb and its properties is due to a wide variety of strains. These strains are developed through selective breeding, and each contains varying sensory, psychoactive, and medicinal properties. (Think of it like a dog breeder selecting mates based on their positive disposition and physical attributes.) It’s these different strains and purposes that lead to common confusion and varying legislation on cannabis.

The Evolving Cannabis Market Landscape 

Global cannabis and hemp legalization is causing the cannabis market to explode. Currently, it is the most pronounced in the U.S., since hemp was federally legalized in the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. Part of the legal complexity comes from variable state-level acceptance of medicinal and recreational uses. This has created an extremely complicated regulatory landscape including challenges such as:

  • Cannabis regulations are currently enacted by the individual states
  • Each state’s legislation differs slightly 
  • There are no pesticides registered by the EPA for explicit use on cannabis 
  • Cannabis remains federally regulated as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance (This complicates the development of standardized testing methodology.

In Europe, the harmonization of cannabis legislation still seems to be a long way off—EU member states each introduce their own regulations. As the market develops in the U.S., it is likely that the EU will be watching closely and taking cues. Standards for legal methodologies are developed by organizational bodies including:

  • AOAC INTERNATIONAL and its open platform for methodology development
  • The Cannabis Analytical Science Program (CASP), which integrates with organizations, such as UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service)

Analytical testing is critical to the legislative and regulatory environment as it continues to develop. It’s essential to use reliable and appropriate cannabis analysis and reference materials for your regulations.

Item Grabber Green is Here to Help Cannabis Industry Professionals

ItemGrabber Green is your one-stop supplier for all Cannabis business-related needs. We are actively adding products and manufacturers regularly as the industry continues to evolve, offering an extensive range of products for:

Our Products Include:

IGG is here to provide everything for businesses in all niches in the expanding cannabis industry. Our consolidating procurement methods make us an invaluable behind-the-scenes partner, weeding out any time consuming steps.

Want to learn how to grow your business with Green?