Cannabinoids are a set of about 80-100 compounds found only in cannabis plants. Cannabinoids are a subset of terpenoids. Terpenoids are a very large class of naturally occurring organic chemicals that come in thousands of varieties. They contribute to scents and flavors and colors of plants, such as cinnamon or ginger. Many are valued for herbal or medicinal properties (antibacterials, analgesics), such as menthol, camphor, or eucalyptol. Thus, all cannabinoids are terpenoids, but not all terpenoids are cannabinoids. Cannabis does produce many terpenoids that are not cannabinoids, as well, but the cannabinoids are currently the compounds in which most people are interested.
Cannabis plants are unique in that they make a compound called CBG-A (cannabigerol acid). This compound is the “mother” or “grandmother” to all of the rest of the cannabinoids. Some of the more prevalent cannabinoids are listed below. In the plant, CBG-A gets converted mostly along three major divisions: (1) THC-A and derivatives, (2) CBD-A and derivatives, and (3) CBC-A and derivatives. Most of the currently common strains produce primarily the THC-A family. Years of hybridization efforts to increase the psychoactive potency of cannabis have, largely, been successful in this. A few strains are known to sometimes produce more of the CBD-A family and are of great interest now due to recent successful studies showing the great potential of CBD, in particular, as effective for treating numerous ailments. The CBC-A family is much less studied at this point, but, with the advent of new technologies like those at Steep Hill Halent, the identification of strains with significant amounts of the CBC-A family is just beginning. In fact, this is true of almost all of the cannabinoids other than THC and CBD. The research on most other compounds is still in its infancy, but results are being produced at an increasingly rapid pace.