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Understanding Cannabis Testing: A Guide to Cannabinoids and Terpenes

This article was written by Baily Rahn and published on Leafly. You can find the original article here.

As the medical and recreational cannabis markets continue their steady climb toward legitimacy, the demand for lab-tested products climbs alongside it. Cannabis testing is the scientific process of measuring different chemicals and compounds in the product. They can measure beneficial constituents like cannabinoids and terpenes, or not-so-desirable contaminants such as pesticides, mold, and residual solvents. Research is now showing that strains exhibit different compound profiles, unique “fingerprints” built by a specific composition of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Leafly has teamed up with Steep Hill Halent to bring you these Strain Fingerprints, which help to show how each strain is, to an extent, a special snowflake. Looking at these graphics, you may recognize some chemical compounds like THC and CBD, but many people are not sure what other cannabinoids and terpenes are or how they can affect you. Fear not, curious consumers: this guide to Steep Hill’s Strain Fingerprints will walk you through it.

Steep Hill strain fingerprint for Sour Diesel


THC (∆9-Tetrahydrocannabinol)

  • Strongly psychoactive (induces a euphoric high)
  • Most cannabis strains are bred to contain a high THC content while other cannabinoids occur only in trace amounts
  • Demonstrates promise in treating painnauseasleep and stress disorders, and appetite loss
  • Can cause anxiety and paranoia in some individuals
  • Boiling point: 315 °F (157 °C)

THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)

  • Strongly psychoactive (induces a euphoric high)
  • More strongly psychoactive than THC, but duration of effects is about half as long
  • Typically occurs in only trace amounts in cannabis
  • Pronounced energetic effects
  • Found to effectively counter anxietystress, and panic disorders without suppressing emotion
  • Reduces tremors associated with Alzheimer’sParkinson’s, and other neurological disorders
  • Diminishes appetite
  • Stimulates bone growth

CBD (Cannabidiol)

CBDV (Cannabidivarin)

  • Non-psychoactive (does not induce a euphoric high)
  • Demonstrates promise in treating seizures

CBG (Cannabigerol)

  • Non-psychoactive (does not induce a euphoric high)
  • Typically occurs in only trace amounts in cannabis
  • Found to stimulate brain cell and bone growth
  • Demonstrates promise as an anti-bacterial and anti-insomnia medicine

CBC (Cannabichromene)

  • Non-psychoactive (does not induce a euphoric high)
  • Typically occurs in only trace amounts in cannabis
  • Found to be about 10 times more effective than CBD in treating anxietyand stress
  • Anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties
  • Stimulates bone growth
  • Boiling point: 428 °F (220 °C)

CBN (Cannabinol)

  • Mildly to non-intoxicating (does not induce a euphoric high)
  • Typically occurs in only trace amounts in cannabis
  • Occurs as a result of THC degradation
  • Most sedating of all the cannabinoids
  • Demonstrates promise in treating insomniaglaucoma, and pain
  • Boiling point: 365 °F (185 °C)




  • Rich, spicy aroma
  • Also found in Thai basil, cloves, and black pepper
  • Anti-septic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Boiling point: 320 °F (160 °C)


  • Also found in mango, hops, bay leaves, lemongrass, and eucalyptus
  • Sedatingrelaxing effects
  • Demonstrates promise in treating spasmsinflammationpain, and insomnia
  • Reduces resistance across the blood-brain barrier which facilitates access of other chemicals
  • Enhances psychoactive effects of other compounds such as THC
  • Boiling point: 334 °F (168 °C)




  • Aroma similar to hops
  • Also found in hops and coriander
  • Anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Diminishes appetite
  • Boiling point: 388 °F (198 °C)



  • Unlike most terpenes, Phytol’s aroma is very subtle
  • Also found in aged green tea
  • A result of chlorophyll breakdown
  • Sleep aid
  • Boiling point: 400 °F (204 °C)

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