Cannabis Derived Terpenes | What’s the Difference and Why Should You Care?

cannabis derived terpenes

Plants have them. A few insects have them, too. But how much do we really know about the molecules that give cannabis its distinct aroma, enhance your experience, and boast newfound medicinal benefits to boot? With legalization conversations sweeping across the nation, there’s been a lot of fuss around cannabis derived terpenes. Further, since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the industry is seeing an influx of products and interest into terpene content.

Found in everyday products like beer, fruits, and even perfumes, terpenes are one of the only parts of the cannabis plant recognized by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) because of their widespread use and popularity. Let’s not be fooled, though, because this distinction is as a “food-safe additive” only and not distinct to the cannabis plant or any of its compounds.

It’s also important to note that while the FDA released a statement explaining their support of scientific research into the medicinal properties of cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds, to date they have not approved cannabis for “the treatment of any disease or condition”. Both cannabis-derived medication and synthetic cannabis-derived products are approved, however; they are only available with a prescription from a licensed health-care professional to treat a very specific list of ailments.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are organic compounds found in plants, flowers, fruits, and even some insects. Terpenes are the molecules that give each organism their distinct aroma and taste profile. Found in the plant’s resin glands or trichomes, you’ve probably also heard about how terpenes affect your high via the entourage effect.

With hundreds of these miracle molecules found in the cannabis Sativa plant so far, it is now widely believed that terpenes, rather than the strain or THC content present in your cannabis, significantly influence the psycho-activity experienced by the consumer.

Cannabis-Derived Terpenes 

Scientists are proving what aromatherapists have been suggesting for years: we can and do experience physiological changes based on aromatic response. Nothing could be truer than those aromas emitted by the cannabis flower. Cannabis-derived terpenes are those that occur naturally in the cannabis plant and were created as a natural pest repellent. Terpenes assist the organism in protecting against compromising parasites and support in attracting food.

Through a holistic lens whole-plant, cannabis-derived terpenes will always be the preferred choice as they’re formulated by pulling nutrients directly from the earth and are not created in a laboratory. Because whole-plant cannabis contains vital molecules, terpenes derived and harvested from the plant are thought of as more beneficial and synergistic.

Synthetic, Lab-Created Terpenes

The most significant difference between whole-plant and synthetic, or non-cannabis derived terpene, is that compared to natural occurring terpenes found in both indoor and outdoor cultivation of cannabis and hemp, these compounds are created in a lab and referred to as “cannabis-related” by the FDA.  

One of the benefits of manufacturing cannabis-related terpenes is that cannabinoid profiles are more reliable and easily replicated for accuracy. Scientists and those studying the effects of terpenoid profiles on cannabis consumers have a more dependable and sustainable pool of data when it comes to dosing and other scientific research.

While many cannabis insiders say that they prefer cannabis-derived terpenes, others cite temperature, sunlight exposure, other growing conditions, and cost as risk factors in doing so and chose to go the synthetic route.

Common Cannabis-Derived Terpenes

The following are the descriptions of some of the most common cannabis-derived terpenes.


Hailed as one of the most abundant terpenes offered from the cannabis plant, cannabis-derived myrcene terpenes are known to give your cannabis a spicy, earthy aroma.


A fruity, citrus terpene found in many body and home care products is believed to provide anxiety and stress relief.


One of the most common terpenes found in the cannabis plant is Pinene. Pinene smells exactly like you’d imagine: piney. There are two types, alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene. Alpha-pinene is most prevalent in cannabis. Feelings of alertness and focus are commonly reported in strains with significant levels of pinene.


One of the lesser-known and discussed terpenes, Ocimen is believed to have a variety of medicinal benefits. Calming and anti-inflammatory, Ocimene has a woodsy smell.


Floral, Citrusy, and also giving off a woodsy aroma, terpinolene has a mild to moderate sedative effect.

Learn More at CannaCon

As time continues to pass and more people open their minds to cannabinoid therapies, it’s likely we will receive more information on the tiny miracle molecules that are terpenes. In the meantime, join us for a CannaCon event in your area to stay up to date on all of the latest cannabis news.


  1. Patricia A Gonyea on October 28, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    is this medical or recreational?

    • Jim on May 10, 2023 at 12:28 pm


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