What are the Active Ingredients in Cannabis?

Cannabis features many beneficial ingredients. These chemical components work together to form a “complete” medicine. This cooperative collection of potent medical molecules is known as the “Entourage Effect”. There are 116 phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids in plants) found in cannabis as well as countless other (possibly beneficial) compounds.

What makes Cannabis a truly unique medicine are the many different compound profiles available in the multitude of cannabis strains being developed. Strains can be grown with higher levels of specific compounds targeting the desired treatment. For instance, there are strains with low levels of psychoactive ingredients yet they are rich in other beneficial non-psychoactive cannabinoids like Cannabidiol.

Here are the most commonly listed ingredients found on medicinal Cannabis packaging:

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acidTHC-A

tetrahydrocannabinolic acidTHC-A, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is a compound in cannabis that is the precursor to THC, yet THC-A actually has very different properties than THC. Unlike THC, THC-A is found in fresh cannabis and the dried flowers. As the plant dries out, THC-A slowly converts to THC. Heat speeds up the conversion in the process known as decarboxylation that changes the molecule with the removal of a carboxyl group and the release of carbon dioxide. Cannabis products labeled with a high THC-A number will yield more THC when ingested using heat. (smoking, vaping and cooking)

THC-A has medicinal qualities without being intoxicating. Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid has been found to be an antiemetic, relieving the feeling of nausea. THC-A is used as an anti inflammatory treatment, showing signs of relieving the discomfort of arthritis. There are studies in progress that may reveal THC-A’s neuroprotective properties and cancer treatment possibilities.


TetrahydrocannabinolTetrahydrocannabinol is the compound that made Cannabis famous. THC is the primary source of the high one receives with Cannabis. THC works by binding to cannabinoid receptors concentrated in the brain and central nervous system to produce psychoactive effects. A high level of THC-A in the dried flower translates into a high level of THC after decarboxylation (heating).

The euphoric effect that is the reason for Cannabis’ popularity is very useful as a treatment for many types of pain and discomfort. Clinical testing has shown THC to ease spasticity in MS patients, control Turrets and even help lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s. THC has been effectively used to treat anorexia in people with HIV/AIDS as well as for nausea and vomiting in people undergoing chemotherapy. The uses for this molecule as a medicinal product have yet to be fully explored and I expect many more findings now that legalization is upon us.

Cannabidiolic AcidCBD-A

Cannabidiolic AcidFound in fresh Cannabis, Cannabidiolic Acid or CBD-A is the precursor to the molecule, CBD or cannabidiol. Like THC-A, decarboxylation changes the molecule to create the more widely known medicine CBD.

While not psychoactive, Cannabidiolic Acid may have anti-emetic effects as well as anti-proliferative effects, making it ideal for fighting cancer. It also has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory and to possess anti-bacterial properties. Most importantly, CBD-A is key in producing the more sought after medicine CBD.


CannabidiolCannabidiol is the molecule found throughout the Cannabis plant that has shown the most promise as a medicine. Currently (2017) CBD products are legal in the US as it does not make one high.

CBD may be of value in treating epilepsy and tests have shown significant efficacy against Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy in infants that is difficult to treat. It has shown promise in the treatment of anxiety and psychosis, having a calming effect on afflicted patients. Cannabidiol has been used to treat depression, alcoholism, diabetes, chronic pain, schizophrenia and PTSD. CBD has demonstrable neuroprotective affects and its anti-cancer properties are currently being investigated. This is a medicine you’ll want to watch or maybe invest in as it appears to be a miracle drug!


CannabinolAnother non-psychoactive cannabinoid, Cannabinol is found in trace amounts in dried, lower quality Cannabis.

CBN is most known as a treatment for insomnia. It has shown promise as an anti-inflammatory and it works well to stimulate appetite. Cannabinol has been shown to have analgesic properties as well.


CannabichromeneCannabichromene is another non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid that is the result of the decarboxilization of cannabichromenic acid (CBC-A).

Cannabichromene may help in protecting neurons from damage, pain relief, suppressing nausea and vomiting. Evidence has suggested that CBC may play a role in the anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects of cannabis, and it may have also antifungal properties. Currently being studied are cannabichromene’s effect on Acne, Bone Density and Cancer. Cannabichromene was also shown to have a significant effect on depression.

There are a heckuva lot more phytocannabiniods in Cannabis that will surely show promise as medicine. It is important to remember that endocannabiniods are found in mother’s milk and our own Endocannabinoid system is not completely understood. Cannabis has more than 100 phytocannabinoids that may interact with our Endocannabinoid system and could have an effect on humans.

While not the primary compounds cannabis users are seeking and usually not found on the ingredient list, Terpenes are responsible for cannabis’ aromatic properties. Terpenoids come in many “flavors” ranging from fruity to piney. It is thought that terpenes have an important synergistic role in cannabis as a medicine, tempering the psychoactive effects and assisting medicinal adsorption.

Cannabis also contains over 20 flavonoids, compounds common in most plant life. Cannaflavonoids are exclusive to cannabis and are considered to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties and may help prevent major diseases including cancer.

Legalization will open new doors and present a better opportunity to study Cannabis. With these possibilities on the horizon, I have no doubt the truth about this amazing plant will come to light and Cannabis will gain the respect it deserves.

Cannabis Strains – Cobbler

Cobbler is an Indica dominate cross between Girl Scout Cookie and Cherry pie. These nuggs have an earthy sweet taste when smoked.

Active Ingredient Stats from package:

  • TAC (Total Active Cannabinoids): 25.6%
  • THC-A (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid): 24.1%
  • THC: (Tetrahydrocannabinol): 0.4%
  • CBD (cannabidiol): 0.4%

You can learn what these ingredients are by reading the post: What Are the Active Ingredients in Cannabis?

cannabis cobbler bud

This cannabis was purchased at a dispensary in Massachusetts. Here’s a microscopic view of Cobbler.

cobble cannabis

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Cannabis Strains – Super Lemon Haze

Super Lemon Haze is a sativa-dominant hybrid of Lemon Skunk and Super Silver Haze. As expected, SLH has a sweet, citrusy flavor. The high is typically fun and giggly.

  • TAC (Total Active Cannabinoids): 24.5%
  • CBC (Cannabichromene): 0.1%
  • CBG-A (Cannabigerol): not listed
  • THC-A (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid): 24.0%
  • THC: (Tetrahydrocannabinol): 0.2%
  • CBD: (Cannabidiol) 0.1%
  • CBD-A (Cannabidiolic Acid ): 0.1%
  • CBN (cannabinol): not listed

You can learn what these ingredients are and why they are important in our post: What are the active ingredients in Cannabis?

This was from 14 grams purchased at a dispensary in Massachusetts. Here is a microscopic view:

Bud of the Month?

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Boston Freedom Festival

The Boston Freedom Fest is the largest festival celebrating Cannabis on the East Coast. For the 28th year, stoners gather on Boston Common to share a smoke with a few thousand of their friends. Great music, lots of food trucks and tremendous clouds of ganja smoke. Enjoy this 360 Video for the full 4:20 experience:

Make sure you have the latest browser for the full 360 view.

Cannabis Strains – Tangie

Tangie is a bright and fruity Indica dominant cross of California Orange and a Skunk hybrid celebrating the famous Tangerine Dream of last century.

  • TAC (Total Active Cannabinoids): 27.4%
  • CBC (Cannabichromene): 0.2%
  • CBG-A (Cannabigerol): not listed
  • THC-A (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid): 25.6%
  • THC: (Tetrahydrocannabinol): 0.1%
  • CBD-A (Cannabidiolic Acid ): 0.1%
  • CBN (cannabinol): not listed

This was a 3.5 gram taste from a Massachusetts dispensary. Here is Tangie under the microscope:

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Cannabis Strains – Captain’s Cake

A light brown patina with a sweet woody taste, Captain’s Cake is an Indica dominate that is a bit different than the fruity green strains we’ve been enjoying. This strain was developed by The Captain’s Connection by crossing Girl Scout Cookies and White Fire Alien OG.

Active Ingredient Stats from package:

  • TAC (Total Active Cannabinoids): 30.0%
  • CBC (Cannabichromene): 0.2%
  • CBG-A (Cannabigerol): not listed
  • THC-A (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid): 28.6%
  • THC: (Tetrahydrocannabinol): 0.1%
  • CBD-A (Cannabidiolic Acid ): 0.1%
  • CBN (cannabinol): not listed

You can learn what these ingredients are by reading the post: What Are the Active Ingredients in Cannabis?

This was from 7 grams purchased from a dispensary in Massachusetts. Here’s Captain’s Cake under the microscope.

Second Grow – Cannabis Sex

The group of plants from this second grow have grown beyond the size of the of the box. I should have taken steps to bend these plants to train them for lower growth. I’m hoping the switch to flowering lighting will stop the upward growth some.

cannabis plants

It hasn’t been quite a week under the “flowering” schedule yet there is already evidence of preflowering females. I examined all of the cannabis plants carefully and I can see no signs of male flowers.

weed pistils

cannabis pistils

Hopefully I’ll get visible evidence that will confirm the sex of all of the cannabis plants. See you soon…

update: It appears I have all female plants. I removed the seventh plant as the Massachusetts law only allows 6 flowering plants per household.

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Cannabis Strains – Domnesia

Domnesia is an Indica dominant hybrid strain created by crossing Amnesia Haze with Black Domina. This is some of the most potent Cannabis I’ve seen.

Active Ingredient Stats from package:

  • TAC (Total Active Cannabinoids): 30.1%
  • CBC (Cannabichromene): 0.0%
  • CBG-A (Cannabigerol): 0.0%
  • THC-A (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid): 28.1
  • THC: (Tetrahydrocannabinol): 1.3%
  • CBD-A (Cannabidiolic Acid ): 0.7%
  • CBN (cannabinol): 0.0%

This cannabis was purchased at a Massachusetts dispensary for $175 a half ounce.

Domnesia as viewed through a digital microscope.

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Cannabis Strains – Bruce Banner

This pile of nugs is known as Bruce Banner, named after that mild mannered guy that turns into the Incredible Hulk. This Sativa dominant hybrid strain has a high THC content with a great balance between the Sativa and Indica effects. The Bruce Banner strains (yes, there are more than one) are developed from cross breeding Strawberry Diesel and OG Kush.

Bruce Banner Cannabis

Active Ingredient Stats from package:

  • TAC (Total Active Cannabinoids): 25.6%
  • CBC (Cannabichromene): 0.2%
  • CBG-A (Cannabigerol): 0.9%
  • THC-A (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid): 23.9
  • THC: (Tetrahydrocannabinol): 0.3%
  • CBD-A (Cannabidiolic Acid ): 0.1%
  • CBN (cannabinol): 0.0%

Bruce Banner weed

This was purchased at a Massachusetts dispensary for $300.00 an ounce

Here is a photo of Bruce Banner under the microscope.

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Second Grow – Veg Time

The seedlings have had some explosive growth! I think it is fair to say these have entered the vegetative stage. The growth is so lush and the leaves so fat, I think I’ll need to prepare a second grow chamber to contain it all.

I lowered the plants by removing the 3″ box I had underneath the pots. These plants are starting to grow upward so that extra room from the light source was necessary.

I “topped” some of the plants by pinching that tight cluster of new leaves at the tip of the plant. This stops the tendency to grow one main cola, and splits the plant into two main stems. When the cannabis plant is topped at a young age, the plant will grow multiple colas by adding new branches for buds to develop on and (hopefully) keep the plant’s height down.

topping cannabis

I will top the other plants when their new leaves get a bit larger. I always hesitate when I’m grabbing that bright green cluster of new growth. I hate to hurt my plants in any way but this is a necessary step.

cannabis leaf cluster

…watch us grow…

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