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Types of Cannabis and Health Risks

Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

With states legalizing across the country, many people are starting to learn that there are multiple varieties of the cannabis plant, sometimes called “marijuana”, and they can be prepared in a variety of ways. The potency of cannabis can vary greatly from one plant to another and from one preparation to another. The route of administration can strongly affect the intensity of marijuana’s effects.

One person’s experience of taking marijuana can be completely different from that of someone else.

Smoking Weed

Often simply called weed or pot, this is the unprocessed form of cannabis.   Weed consists of the dried leaves and buds of the female Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica plants.  

It has a very pungent and recognizable odor, both in its unburnt state and while being smoked.   This odor is quite unlike kitchen herbs, although weed is sometimes “cut” (mixed) with benign kitchen herbs such as oregano and parsley when sold in the underground market.

Weed is commonly smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes, known as joints. The lumpy texture of weed can be felt through the tobacco rolling paper. This is one of the characteristics that can differentiate a joint from a hand-rolled tobacco cigarette.

Hashish and weed can be mixed with rolling tobacco, which is a soft, moist, sticky tobacco preparation designed for hand-rolling. It may also be mixed with the dry tobacco from deconstructed cigarettes. This mixture is referred to as a “spliff”.  

Weed, hashish, and hashish oil can be smoked in pipes, water pipes, and bongs, or mixed with tobacco and smoked in a chillum. Some young adults have also used e-cigarettes to inhale marijuana through “vaping.”  

Hashish

Hashish, or hash for short, is a preparation of marijuana made from the resin of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. The resin is dried into blocks of hashish, producing an oily, solid substance.  

Cannabis resin can be referred to by the names for the specific type of hash, rather than the generic names of hashish or pot. These different names for hashish include black, goldseal black, redseal black, and Morrocan (Rocky for short).

Hashish is often warmed, crumbled, and rolled together with tobacco. It may also be smoked in a pipe, bong, or chillum.

There are several different types of hashish. The colors range from dark brown or almost black, through various shades of brown, to a dirty yellowish color.

The appearance of different types of hashish can vary as well. Some may look dark and shiny (a bit like licorice) and some may be lighter and dull or matte (a bit like a soup stock cube). The texture of hashish also varies from quite dry and hard, like a piece of fudge, to moist and pliable, like modeling clay.

As with weed, hashish has a very distinctive, pungent odor. It is one of the easiest ways of identifying it as a form of marijuana. The appearance of hashish is so varied that novice users are often duped into buying licorice or other cheap, benign substances that look similar.

Hashish oil, or hash oil, is the strongest form of marijuana and is the least common form of the drug.   It is sold in tiny bottles or sealed plastic bags.

Only a small amount is needed to produce the effects of marijuana. Typically, hash oil is smoked in a pipe or painted onto cigarettes or joints.

Learn how to identify the several types of marijuana, a variety of cannabis preparations, risks, and benefits.

More about Nug

Origin

While there’s no definitive answer as to where the term “nug” derived from — or how it became ingrained in cannabis culture — the most likely explanation is as a shortened version of the term “nugget.” Originally, the word “nugget” was defined as a small lump of gold or other precious metal, but the term was eventually expanded to include small lumps or chunks of other substances, including cannabis.

In addition to describing the size and shape of cannabis flowers, nug can also refer to the quality of cannabis. Nug is a term cannabis consumers typically use to describe buds of high-quality cannabis. The opposite of nug is “schwag,” or low-quality cannabis.

Nugs make up the larger colas on the cannabis plant and have a relative density of trichomes far greater than leaves and stems or stalks. After the cola is harvested, the nugs are removed and manicured to clear away any leaves or stems that might be attached. Dried, cured nugs are sold for consumption.

Nug in pop culture

The term nug is used frequently in the cannabis industry and by cannabis consumers. As cannabis has become more mainstream, so have pop culture references to nugs.

Some places you might have heard the term nug in recent years include:

  • The namesake song “Haiku d’Etat,” released in 19992004 by the group of the same name (“… after partaking from breaking nugs down out of fat bud stash … ”)
  • The song “Blaze,” released in 2000 by The Pharcyde (“ … there’s no need for hatin,’ I got nugs you can hug … ”)
  • The song “Boulevard Star,” released in 2000 by Delinquent Habits (“ … I’ll be remembered in the hearts of riders, West and East siders, known to take nug, pack bowl, and light …”)
  • The song “Remember,” released in 2003 by Presence (“ … better yet one more hug, one more nug to smoke … ”)
  • The song “Where’s The Weed At?,” released in 2006 by Kottonmouth Kings (“ … I got a nug on my desk and in my dresser drawer …”)
  • The song “Higher Learning,” released in 2011 by Young Jeezy, with guests Snoop Dogg, Devin the Dude, and Mitchelle’l (“ … I smoke dro, good Reggie, smoke shake to nugs …”)
  • The song “Get Hi,” released in 2016 By Danny Brown with guest B-Real (“ … you swear you could make dreams come true, sticky icky nugs, real furry buzz … ”)

A term adapted by the cannabis industry to refer to manicured buds from the cannabis plant. Nugs are the smokable part of the colas that are commonly referred to as flower.