What are terpenes? Medical Marijuana Terpenes Guide.

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What are terpenes? Medical Marijuana Terpenes explained for our MMJ card patients.

After you scheduled an appointment with a medical marijuana doctor at MMJ.com, register with the state MMJ program and receive your medical marijuana card online, the next step is visiting a medical cannabis dispensary and deciding what MMJ products you will consume. A large factor when deciding a cannabis strain is the medical marijuana terpenes found in each unique marijuana strain! This is a big deciding factor as to which medical marijuana flower strain you will choose! We have done a great deal of research and will help guide you through this process!

If you have not yet scheduled an appointment to receive your medical marijuana card, please schedule an appointment with MMJ.com!

Medical Marijuana Terpenes 101: Meet the Terpenes

You don’t need to smoke medical marijuana to bring terpenes into your life—but patients like to think it’s a great way to benefit from them.

Terpenes are everywhere. In flowers, plants, herbs, fruits—even cacti. As amazing as this is, we’re here to talk about something close to our hearts: medical marijuana.

So what are medical marijuana terpenes (terps)? It’s time to find out.

What Are Medical Marijuana Terpenes: The Origins

Medical cannabis terpenes are oils that can be extracted from the glands of a cannabis plant. The glands—also home to CBD, THC, CBG, and other cannabinoids—secrete terpenes.

Terpenes are, essentially, the personality of your medical marijuana plant. They deliver a flavor and scent profile that is unique to that strain of cannabis. Terpenes are part of a plant’s biological drive for survival. If it can’t attract pollinators and repel predators, it won’t survive. From a human perspective, terpenes have a whole other range of uses.

For generations, the great cultures of the world have harnessed the power of plant terpenes. These influential compounds form the basis of every essential oil and aromatherapy treatment, in native medicines, and as perfumes, skincare, aromatherapy, and cleaning products.

While cannabis terpenes could potentially be used that way, too, both scientists and enthusiasts have bigger plans for them: health and wellbeing solutions.

Cannabis terpenes influence which strains could potentially help us decompress and relax, and which strains could help alleviate anxiety and chronic stress. Researchers are still exploring how cannabinoids—like THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, and CBC—interact with cannabis terpenes. How do the two work to harmonize their therapeutic application?

As we learn more, one thing is clear: terpenes influence how our favorite cannabis strains do what they do.

What we do know right now is that medical cannabis produces more than 200 different terpenes.

What Are Medical Marijuana Terpenes: The Line-Up

Terpenes influence how we choose a cannabis strain—especially for a range of smokable medical marijuana products.

Every cannabis strain has a unique terpene makeup—a blend of the various terpenes that creates its signature profile. We like to think of it as your cannabis strain’s personality. It’s also part of how we come up with strain names.

But don’t panic—we’re not about to info-dump 200 terpene profiles on you. Here, we’re exploring the predominant nine terpene profiles—and how they can influence your choice of smokable medical cannabis products.

The Top 9 most common terpenes are:

  1. Myrcene
  2. Limonene
  3. Caryophyllene
  4. Terpinolene
  5. Pinene
  6. Humulene
  7. Ocimene
  8. Linalool
  9. Bisabolol

What Are Terpenes: The Profiles

One way medical marijuana card holders can find their ideal medical marijuana product is by choosing the terpene profile that appeals to them. If you like the classic, earthy cannabis smell—myrcene-dominant products will set your heart (and senses) aflutter. Linalool-dominant cannabis strains will appeal to lavender lovers, and humulene—oddly—has a similar scent and flavor profile to craft beer.

So when you ask the question, ‘what are medical marijuana terpenes?’ the answer doesn’t lie only in what they do. It also lies in what you like.


Myrcene is the traditional “marijuana” signature scent and flavor. When we answer the question, ‘what are medical marijuana terpenes?’ this is generally the answer medical marijuana card holders have in mind. The most common of cannabis terpenes, it is present across many cannabis varieties. You can recognize it by its earthiness, and herbaceous, citrusy notes.

Myrcene is known to contain antibiotic, sedative, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Smells like: Musk, citrus, cardamom, and cloves

Feels like: Relaxation and soothing—an ideal smoke as you chill in a hot bath

Potentially helpful for: Anti-inflammatory bodywork, pain, and improved sleep

Also present in: Thyme, Thai basil, sage, and lemongrass


Another easily recognizable cannabis terpene, limonene has an invigorating lemon scent and citrusy aftertaste. The limonene compound is made by alpha-pinene, so it also shares some of its parent molecules benefits. Limonene is praised for elevating mood and memory function, and supporting those who suffer from chronic stress and feelings of anxiety.

Smells like: Lemon, grapefruit, and bitter citrus

Feels like: Invigorating and stress reduction

Potentially helpful for: Boosting mood, reducing inflammation and pain, easing stress and anxiety.

Also present in: Citrus fruits, rosemary, juniper, and catnip


In early research, caryophyllene is the only marijuana terpene which is clinically shown to act directly on the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

If you’re not familiar with the ECS, this is the system that receives cannabinoids in order to keep the body operating effectively. Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency—which has links to IBS, fibromyalgia, PTSD, migraines, and chronic pain—is shown to be treated through high-caryophyllene CBD.

And if you’re wondering: it’s pronounced carry-OFF-ill-een.

Smells like: Woody oriental—clove, dark woods, spice, peppercorns

Feels like: Soothing and relaxing

Potentially helpful for: Treatment of chronic pain, headaches, migraines, uterine cramping, ulcers, and mental wellbeing disorders.

Also present in: Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pink peppercorns, nasturtiums


Terpinolene extract has been used for decades as an essential oil for antifungal and antibacterial treatments. It has also been popular in atomizers, soaps, and cleaning products for its refreshing scent.

This valuable cannabis terpene has found its way into the spotlight recently thanks to emerging research in heart disease patients, and also with its role in inhibiting cancer cell growth. As scientists battle it out to uncover terpinolene’s hidden talents, we are also using it to repel mosquitos.

Smells like: Woody floral—pine and flowers with a herbaceous note

Feels like: Invigorating and uplifting

Potentially helpful for: Improved focus, mood-lifting, antioxidant and antibacterial qualities. Research is being done into terpinolene’s role in fighting cancer and heart disease, so stay tuned.

Also present in: Tea tree, Manuka, eucalyptus, conifers, and lilacs


If terpinolene or limonene appealed to you, so will pinene. This marijuana terpene delivers the classic, fresh pine scent. It is a fresh, woodsy, cool scent that helps boost mental clarity and alertness. Pinene is technically two terpenes, though: alpha-pinene and beta-pinene.

Smells like: Pine

Feels like: Invigorating, energizing, and stimulating

Potentially helpful for: Memory recall, information retention, asthma, inflammation, easing anxiousness, and relieving sinus issues

Also present in: Pine needles, basil, rosemary


Beer—and cannabis —enthusiasts draw a lot of similarities between the humulene terpene and craft beer. And with good reason: humulene is present in the hops we use to make beer. Humulene is an appetite suppressant—unlike beer—and it also has industry research backing it as an anti-tumor, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory powerhouse.

Smells like: Dam wood, yeast, beer

Feels like: Calming and relaxing

Potentially helpful for: Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, appetite suppressant. As with terpinolene, research is being done into humulene’s role as a cancer fighter.

Also present in: Hops, basil, and coriander


Studies in the last decade show that the ocimene terpene—also found in mandarins—has strong anti-inflammatory qualities. This is one of the most subtle medical marijuana terpenes on our list, but it shows a lot of potential therapeutic promise. According to some researchers, it could be effective at treating symptoms of type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Whatever comes from further studies, this powerful little marijuana terpene has solid inhibiting qualities. It inhibits chronic inflammation and stress, and stops the spread of type 2 diabetes enzymes, fungi, infection, and mucus.

Smells like: Subtle sweet citrus

Feels like: No noticeable experience—ocimene is a team player that relies on the entourage effect

Potentially helpful for: Decongesting blocked sinuses, reducing mucus production, antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal.

Also present in: Mango, orchid, and kumquat


The linalool terpene has a passionate following—lending your cannabis experience the unique, addictive scent of lavender. Smokable medical marijuana flower with a strong linalool component have a menthol taste that many medical marijuana enthusiasts can’t do without.

Linalool acts as a sedative, and lends itself to a range of research-backed potential treatments.

Smells like: Lavender

Feels like: Mood boosting, relaxing, and ideal for decompressing after a physical day

Potentially helpful for: those suffering from insomnia, anxiety, depression, and muscle aches. It has also shown promise as an anti-epileptic, anti-seizure support, so check in regularly for future developments.

Also present in: Lavender, chrysanthemum, and gerbera


This is an elegant cannabis terpene that smells like chamomile and Brazilian candeia. It has been widely used in the cosmetics industry, but its properties in cannabis have caught the eye of medical researchers in the past decade, too. It’s use in cosmetics for soothing, healing, and calming the skin—key properties in chamomile—are the same being researched in medical marijuana.

Smells like: Flowers

Feels like: Mood enhancing, relaxing

Potentially helpful for: anti-microbial, wound healing, easing irritation, soothing redness, relieving pain

Also present in: Chamomile

What Are Terpenes: The MMJ Dispensary Guide

To make sure you get the most out of your smokable medical marijuana experience, there are a few tricks to shopping smart.

First, take note of what you want.

What are terpenes meant to support you in? Are you trying to decompress after a crazy day at work? Are you trying to ease inflammation from physical activity? Tired of coping with chronic pain or stress? When you get clear on your intention—we can help you make it a reality.

Second, decide how you want to consume your medical marijuana.

Here are several reasons why medical marijuana card holders decide to smoke medical marijuana instead of consuming edibles or tinctures.

  • Smoking cannabis delivers the benefits of cannabinoids and terpenes fast, and allows for a more intense effect than other methods of CBD administration.
  • Smoking medical marijuana shows effectiveness within 10 minutes of use, and lasts for up to several hours at a time.
  • Smoking medical marijuana can act as a supplementary method to other formats of CBD use—topical or oral.
  • Smoking medical marijuana bypasses the digestive system, so it’s fast, simple, and calorie free. Ideal before or after a meal.
  • Smoking medical marijuana can lead to negative effects. Please choose wisely before choosing to smoke medical marijuana.

What are Terpenes?
What are Terpenes?