The smell that you pick up as soon as the weed hits your hands is terpenes. Yes, that signature woody  or sometimes dog shit esque odor actually is essential oils that leak out of the marijuana (essential oils can be found in many natural things all over). Knowing what they are is important to decide which strain you buy, because each scent is linked with different effects. Terpenes are  secreted through the same pores that produce cannabinoids and are used by marijuana plants to repel predators and lure pollinators. Climate, weather age and maturation will  affect this process as well as the fertilizer being used and time in general. There are over 20,000 terpenes identified so far, with fewer being found in cannabis (around 200 though most of them are not in substantial amounts), though each strain has a unique type and composition.

David Watson was among the first to emphasize the importance of terpenes and went on to make the foundational hybrid Skunk #1. These can be broken down to mono-terpenes, diterpenes and sesquiterpenes depending on the number of repeating units of a five carbon molecule called isoprene, which is the structural hallmark of all terpenoid compounds.

What is more amazing than the smell and taste is the way that terpenes influence cannabinoids. Newer strains in the past few decades have been selectively bred to produce more THC, which resultantly lowers the other cannabinoids such as CBD,CBC,CBN. Because of this, it is believed that the terpenes are what give the individual effects of cannabis strains. Terpenes not only can affect the amount of THC that passes through the blood brain barrier, they also bind to the same receptors that THC will, affecting their chemical output. These terpenes can even affect dopamine and serotonin by altering the rate of destruction, movement, production and availability of receptors.

One of the most common terpenes found in cannabis is the alpha pinene and is the most common in the world. Pinene promotes alertness, memory retention, inhibits metabolic breakdown of acetylcholinesterase, a neurotransmitter in the brain that stimulates these effects. Myrcene relaxes muscles, sedates, hypnotizes, anti-inflammatory, and pain killing. It is most famous for its couch lock effect. Limonene can dissolve gallstones, improve mood, relieve heartburn and gastrointestinal reflux. It has also been shown to destroy breast cancer cells and is a powerful antimicrobial against pathogenic bacteria.

Each terpene has different benefits, but more research is needed to fully understand these. Myrcene induces sleep, limonene elevates mood, caryophyllene has gastroprotective properties, etc. Here are some profiles for a few terpenes:


pine aroma

Effects:memory retention, alertness, counteracts some THC effects

Medical value: antiseptic, asthma

Found in: pine needles, rosemary, basil, parsley, dill

Best strains: Jack Herer, Chemdawg, Bubba Kush, Trainwreck, Super Silver Haze


musky, earthy, cloves, hints of tropical fruit

Effects: sedating, couch lock, relaxing

medical value:antioxidant, muscle tension, sleepiness, pain, depression, inflammation, anti-carcinogenic

found in:mango, lemongrass, hops, thyme

Best strains: Pure Kush, El Nino, Himalayan Gold, Skunk #1, White Widow


citrus aroma

Effects: elevated mood, stress relief

Medical value: anti-carcinogenic, anti-bacterial, dissolves gallstones, mood-enhancer, gastrointestinal benefits, depression, heart burn

Found in:fruit rinds, rosemary, juniper, peppermint

Best strains: OG Kush, Super Lemon Haze, Jack the Ripper, Lemon Skunk

peppery, spicy, woody, clove aroma

Medical value:gastroprotective, arthritis, anti-inflammatory, ulcers, autoimmune disorder

Found in: black pepper, cloves, cotton

Best strains:Hash Plant


aroma is floral, citrus, candy

Effects:anxiety relief, sedation

Medical value: anti-anxiety, anti-convulsant, anti-depressant, anti-acne

Found in:lavendar

Best strains: G-13, Amnesia Haze, Lavendar, LA Confidenial

Now, just by smelling your nughugs, you’ll be able to get an idea of what they are about to do to you. It isn’t just about the THC anymore, kids! My only problem is that some drug dealers out there might start dousing their marijuana in terpenes to get more money for them!