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The Difference Between Cannabinoids and Terpenes

Each industry owns a unique and relevant set of terminology. In the plant terpenes industry, you might have heard the terms natural terpenes and cannabinoids. Whether in cannabis news, discussion, cultivation, or retail, these two terms own different stories.

Today we will discuss these terms and highlight their importance, connection to each other, and of course, the differences.

Plant terpenes and cannabinoids are active chemical components. They are found in the cannabis plant. Both of the compounds have essential roles to play. Read till the end to learn what properties they have and how they differ. 

What is Cannabinoid?

Cannabinoids are defined as a class of components derived from hemp and cannabis. This class is best known for directly interacting with the cannabinoid receptors. Especially those that are found throughout the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). 

The ECS is a complex cell-signaling system that was first identified in the early 1990s. Well, scientists and other experts are still trying to figure out this important human system. In short, ECS is a well-known part of your body’s functioning regulation. Some of the important processes include mood, sleep, memory, reproduction, and appetite. 

When it comes to cannabinoids, these compounds work by regulating cell communication in your body. Cannabinoids are responsible for sending, receiving, and processing messages across the cells. 

According to recent research, the cannabis plant produces somewhere around 80 to 100 cannabinoids. You will find a variety of cannabinoids present in different cannabis strains. Each cannabinoid offers a unique benefit

Cannabinoids Types

The three most popular types of cannabinoids that people use are recreational, medicinal, and synthetic.

If we get more specific, the two main cannabinoid subclasses are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical responsible for the psychoactive effects, which is unique to cannabis.

Subclasses of Cannabinoids

The cannabinoids are separated into the following subclasses:

  • Cannabigerol (CBG)
  • Cannabichromene (CBC)
  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Cannabinol (CBN)
  • Cannabidiol (CBDL)

Some of the other common cannabinoids subclasses are cannabielsoin (CBE), cannabicyclol (CBL), and cannabitriol (CBT)

Common Types of Cannabinoids

Below we have two general types of Cannabinoids to make the identification process easy for our readers. Have a look below:

  • Cannabis – in this type, the cannabis plant’s dried leaves and flowers (buds) are smoked in a joint or commonly a bong. Cannabis is known as the most common form of cannabinoids.
  • Hemp – is the fiber of the cannabis plant. Hemp is collected from the stem. People use hemp to make strong fabrics, fibreboard, rope, and paper.

When it comes to medicinal cannabinoids, pharmaceutical cannabis products are the center of attention. These products are approved by authentic organizations such as the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Some common examples include Nabiximols (Sativex®).

Below are popular synthetic cannabinoids:

  • Dronabinol®.5 
  • JWH (a series of synthetic cannabinoids)
  • HU-210 (a synthetic analog of THC)
  • UR-144 (similar effects to THC, slightly less potent than THC)
  • 5F-ADB

What is Terpenes

You are already well-known to what natural terpenes are, right. Well, being a regular reader at Rare Terpenes, you are familiar with them. Especially when it comes to terpene health benefits, terpene oils, and plant terpenes.

Terpenes are known for giving an orange its citrusy smell, pine trees their unique aroma, and relaxing effects in lavender. In short, natural terpenes are famous chemicals that are responsible for how things smell. 

Plant terpenes can easily intensify or downplay the cannabinoid’s effects. Ever wondered why two similar strains can produce entirely different terpenes effects? One natural terpene will leave you with a couch-lock while the other knows how to energize you. 

Well, in our terminology, this is another important aspect of the popular entourage effect. This unique effect is solely driven by both cannabinoids and natural terpenes.

Most popular Terpenes

Below are some of the most popular and common plant terpenes you will find:

1. Pinene

This most common natural terpene features a spicy forest smell. Herbalists have been using pinene for centuries. It works by relieving inflammation as well as asthmatic issues. The aroma of pinene is most pronounced in high-end OG Kush buds. You can easily find it in rosemary, pine nuts, and sage

2. Myrcene

Plant terpene profiles heavy with myrcene belong to the Bay Area’s world-famous purple strains. This natural terpene is famous for relieving full-body pain in combination with THC high cannabis

This is especially important for those moving away from heavier treatment regimes. A person is definitely talking about strains with myrcene when it comes to the legendary “couch-lock” terpenes effects. Myrcene is also found in hops, thyme, mangoes, and lemongrass.

3. Limonene

Looking for something more upbeat? Limonene is the plant terpene hero for you. You will find this plant terpene in Super Lemon Haze. Limonene is also famous for matching the “bag of lemons” aroma. It is extracted from the citrus peels.

4. Beta-caryophyllene

Beta-caryophyllene is a true nose tickler. It is found in pepper as well as many other spices. Once you get past the tickling spiciness, potential medical value is what matters the most. This natural terpene is effective in treating tumors. It also possesses anti-fungal along with anti-bacterial properties. Cloves and black pepper are some natural sources. 

5. Linalool

Last but not least, Linalool is found in lavender, birch, trees, coriander, nutmeg, sage, ginger, and spearmint. It is commonly used as a natural sleep aid. Its anticonvulsant properties pair perfectly with CBD.

Most popular Terpenes at Rare Terpenes

Here are some of our most popular terpenes, which you can only get at Rare Terpenes:

  1. Berry Gelato

It’s a member of the tropical Gelato family of strains. Berry Gelato is a dominant Sativa strain. This terpene combination provides a pleasant and excellent flavor for those who enjoy a less peaceful and sedate flavor.

2. Bubblegum OG

Rare Terpenes’ Bubblegum OG Terpene Blend is one of the strongest flavors, with sweet fruit and slight earthy overtones. Bubblegum OG is created by combining one of the most well-known OG strains with bubblegum flavoring.

3. Gelato

Gelato is a popular terpene combination by Rare Terpenes. It combines the sunset sherbet strain with the most famous terpene strain in the world, girl scout cookies. If you enjoy the scents of the desert or fruits, gelato is for you.

Shop the Best Terpenes at Rare Terpenes

To get your hand on some of the top-trending terpenes, check out this list:

  1. Banana Nut
  2. Birthday Cake
  3. Blue Dream
  4. Cookies & Cream
  5. Do-Si-Dos
  6. Fruity Pebbles
  7. Gorilla Glue
  8. Maui Wowie
  9. OG
  10. Sour Diesel

Difference between Cannabinoids & Terpenes

One thing is clear, cannabis contains both cannabinoids as well as terpenes. A wide variety of manufacturers working in the plant terpene industry combine these two types in their products.

Well, there are considerable differences between cannabinoids and terpenes. However, to keep things simple, we have categorized the variations as follows::

  • Chemical structures
  • Sources
  • Effects
  • Legality

When it comes to effectively using terpenes effects and cannabinoids effects in products, understanding the underlying differences is necessary. Let’s explore the primary factors separating the two important categories of plant-derived compounds.

Chemical  Structure

Cannabis sativa is the only plant that produces cannabinoids. Well, cannabinoids are solely found in cannabis. Despite structural similarities to plant terpenes and other plant-derived chemicals.

Terpenes, on the other hand, are non-psychoactive chemicals. These are present in Cannabis sativa and a variety of other plants. Natural terpenes, unlike cannabinoids, are not exclusive to cannabis.


Every cannabinoid comes with a variety of effects and uses. New cannabinoids are being discovered all the time by scientists. Some cannabinoids cause euphoria. Others have a subtler influence on your body and are non-intoxicating.

Plant terpenes do not cause intoxication. There have been no terpenes effects discovered that have intoxicating properties. That isn’t to imply that terpenes aren’t psychoactive. Each terpene has a particular effect on your body. Certain terpenes health benefits might calm you while others can make you more alert.


A few of the common cannabinoids are legal, but others aren’t legal at all. Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), “marihuana” still falls under the category of a Schedule I drug. According to the federal government’s definition of marihuana, it is relatively wide in many aspects.

In the case of plant terpenes, yes, they are fully legal. The natural terpenes are found in countless different plants apart from cannabis. As a matter of fact, there have never been any efforts regarding the outlaw or application of the special regulatory frameworks. This is especially true when it comes to plant terpenes.


 1. How do cannabinoids and terpenes work as one unit?

These chemicals, according to Chris Emerson, combine to form the aggregate of all the ingredients that contribute to the magic or power of cannabis. When terpenes and cannabinoids like CBD and THC work together, they generate a synergy. As a result, it produces greater and better benefits than each of them could achieve on their own.

2. Are terpenes better as compared to CBD oil?

Certainly not! Some people benefit more from CBD that contains all of the hemp plant’s natural terpenes. While others say isolated CBD works better for them. Furthermore, some people like to know exactly what is in their CBD oil. This is easier with an isolated oil than with a full-spectrum oil.

3. Why are terpenes in cannabis?

Cannabis, like many other plants, evolved natural terpenes to deter herbivores while attracting beneficial predators and pollinators. We, as humans, have developed cannabis to have extremely high terpenes effects levels. Breeders realized that cannabis (pleasant-smelling ones) also makes us feel good at some point.

4. What’s the difference between CBD and terpenes?

Cannabis’ psychotropic, as well as therapeutic, and medical properties are mostly due to cannabinoids. The common ones are CBD and THC. Plant terpenes are a type of cannabis chemical that gives it the flavor and scent.


Now we assume there’s no more confusion when it comes to plant terpenes and cannabinoids. They belong to a distinct class of chemicals with no limit to Cannabis sativa. That doesn’t rule out the possibility that cannabinoids and natural terpenes have something in common. 

After all, both kinds of substances come from cannabis. Also, cannabinoids don’t seem to function as well without terpenes effects. Botanical or plant terpenes are completely legal. They do not get you high and provide numerous benefits on their own. Terpenes and cannabinoids, on the other hand, are a match straight from heaven.

Well, the conclusion is, both are important in their very own way. Even though plant terpenes may be lesser-known or often mixed with cannabinoids. The two work hand in hand it seems.

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