What Does CBD Stand For? And The Other ABCs of Hemp

Every industry has its fair share of technical jargon. The hemp industry is no different. With so many three-letter abbreviations, it’s easy to get a little turned around. Even those who work in the hemp industry have a hard time with all the shorthand.

  • “What does CBD stand for?”
  • “What’s the difference between CBD and CBG?”
  • “What is a COA?” 

In this post, we’re going to define some of the more common terms that you should know.

What Does CBD Stand For?

CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol (Canna-Bi-Diol,) one of the dozens of naturally occurring chemical compounds produced by the hemp plant. These compounds, known as cannabinoids, are under-researched but present many potential health benefits.

What is Cannabidiol? Learn more here

The cannabinoid CBD, second to only THC in popularity, is not psychoactive nor is CBD addictive. The World Health Organization has stated that “…in humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

How Does CBD Work?

CBD interacts with our bodies in a number of ways— the main being with our endocannabinoid system which is a system that helps our bodies regulate:

  • Mood 
  • Stress
  • Appetite and metabolism
  • Inflammation

It’s believed that consuming CBD helps our endocannabinoid system run more efficiently by facilitating the uptake of beneficial chemicals and curbing the uptake of harmful chemicals. 

There is still plenty of research to be done, but early studies suggest that CBD can help with pain management, feelings of nausea, inflammation, and managing seizures.

What Does CBD Stand For CBD Molecule
Credit: Nationwide Testing Association, Inc.

Is CBD A Drug?

In the most technical sense, CBD is a drug. It’s a substance that you can take to help you relax, improve your focus, and manage your sleep. 

CBD is also the main ingredient in Epidiolex, an FDA-approved anti-seizure medication. 

However, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp (and its active ingredient— CBD) was removed from the Controlled Substance Act. So while CBD can be thought of as a beneficial substance, it would be incorrect to consider CBD a drug in the same way that narcotics are.

What Does CBDa Stand For?

The letters CBDa are an abbreviation for cannabidiolic acid (Canna-Bi-Diolic Acid,) the acidic precursor molecule of CBD. 

Cannabidiolic acid is mainly found in raw, unprocessed forms of hemp and will convert to CBD through a process called decarboxylation.

As of right now, less is known about CBDa and its potential health benefits. Some early studies indicate that CBDa may help with inflammation and seizure management.

What is Decarboxylation?

Decarboxylation is a process in which CBDa is subjected to heat and drops a few of its atoms called a carboxyl ring. Once this happens, CBDa becomes CBD and is considered activated and ready for consumption. Decarboxylation is often overlooked by folks the first time they attempt to make CBD edibles. 

What Does THC Stand For?

The only cannabinoid more widely recognized than CBD, THC is an abbreviation of tetrahydrocannabinol (Tetra-Hydro-Cannabinol.) More specifically, THC is often used interchangeably with Δ9-THC— spoken as delta-nine-THC. 

Δ9-THC is a schedule I substance in the United States. Under the greater THC umbrella, some legally murky THC analogues exist, like:

  • Δ8-THC (delta-eight tetrahydrocannabinol) 
  • Δ10-THC (delta-10 tetrahydrocannabinol)
  • THCv (tetrahydrocannabivarin)
  • THC-O (THC-O acetate)
  • HHC (hexahydrocannabinol)
  • And more…

THC and its analogous molecules are best known for their psychoactive properties like euphoria, heightened awareness, and time dilation.

What Does THCa Stand For?

THCa is an abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (Tetra-Hydro-Cannabinolic Acid,) the acidic precursor molecule of THC.

Tetrahydrocannabolic acid is mainly found in raw forms of marijuana and recreational cannabis. THCa will convert into Δ9-THC via decarboxylation.

What Does CBG Stand For?

CBG is short for Cannabigerol (Canna-Bi-Gerol,) another of the dozens of natural cannabinoids produced by hemp and cannabis plants. 

CBG is still relatively under-researched and in pre-clinical stages. As of right now, CBG research is limited to animals, but there are some promising early results like:

  • CBG is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • CBG has been shown to slow and inhibit tumor growth in animals 
  • CBG is believed to have neuroprotective properties and could further research into Huntington’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and several other auto-immune diseases. 

CBG also has an acidic precursor just like CBD and THC, but CBGa is a little more special than the rest. By way of a process called “CBDa/THCa synthase” CBGa will actually turn into each respective molecule + a hydrogen peroxide molecule. 

It’s also believed that synthase may contribute to the cannabis plant’s self-defense system. Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful antifungal and antibacterial agent.

What Does CBN Stand For? 

CBN is short for cannabinol (Canna-Bi-Nol,) and is another of the dozens of naturally-occurring cannabinoids produced by cannabis plants. CBN, like its precursor cannabinoid THC, is considered to be mildly psychoactive. 

CBN is one of the newest cannabinoids on the market. CBN is underresearched and its potential benefits are probably overhyped. That said, there is some evidence to suggest that CBN may help:

What Does CoA Stand For?

CoA is short for Certificate of Analysis— a document, usually provided by a neutral third-party laboratory, that certifies what’s in a product. In the hemp and cannabis industry, certificates of analysis are used to verify potency, dosing, and to ensure no harmful substances like solvents or heavy metals are in the product. 

You should always ask to be provided a CoA when purchasing CBD or cannabis products. Reputable vendors should happily provide you with one. Have a look at ours here!

We also have a guide explaining in-depth how to read your very own CBD CoA. Learn how to read your CoA here

Honorable Jargon Mentions: What Is…

What Is Hemp And Is It Different Than Marijuana?

This is a question we get all the time. Hemp and marijuana look, smell, taste, and smoke the same, so what’s the difference? 

The difference is a question of legality. Hemp and marijuana are both types of cannabis plants. Hemp, as defined by the 2018 Farm Bill, contains less than 0.3% Δ9-THC by dry weight. 

Cannabis plants are considered marijuana when they contain more than 0.3% Δ9-THC by dry weight. 

What Is The Difference Between Hemp Flower And CBD Flower?

There is no difference between hemp and CBD flower. The two terms are used interchangeably. It really comes down to preference. Vendors likely use them both to increase their keyword traffic.

What Does Kief/Keef Mean? 

Read more about Kief here. 

Kief is the name for a collection of trichome heads that develop on flowering cannabis plants. These trichomes are where desirable cannabinoids form and as a result, kief is a highly sought-after cannabis concentrate.

What Are Terps?

“Terps” is short for terpenes. Terpenes are the organic compounds found in essential oils and give cannabis plants their fragrance and flavor. It’s also believed that a cannabis plant’s terpene profile can work in conjunction with its cannabinoid profile to produce different desired effects.

What Are Flavonoids?

Flavonoids are compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and also cannabis plants (to a much lesser extent.) Flavonoids work in tandem with terpenes to give cannabis a distinct smell and taste profile.

Updated 5/9/2022


  1. “CANNABIDIOL (CBD) Pre-Review Report.” World Health Organization , World Health Organization , Nov. 2017,
  2. “Endocannabinoid System: A Simple Guide to How It Works.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 17 May 2019, endocannabinoid-system#how-it-works.
  3. Watson, Kathryn. “Everything You Need to Know About Flavonoids.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 23 Oct. 2019, what-are-flavonoids-everything-you-need-to-know.