Skip to main content

The Properties and Use of Cannabis sativa Herb and Extracts

  • 979 Accesses


The Cannabis plant has been used for centuries for fiber products and for psychotropic effects. In the recent past, the chemistry and pharmacokinetics of THC have been thoroughly investigated, although adverse effects continue to be identified and investigated. CBD has recently become of greater interest to the scientific community for the development of non-psychotropic pharmaceuticals. The nature and properties of Cannabis and the two phytocannabinoids of primary interest (THC and CBD) assist in the understanding of the methods of preparation and use of Cannabis and the extracts of Cannabis. In recent years, the phytocannabinoids have been first medicalized, then legalized, and, ultimately, commercialized. The medicalization of both THC and CBD is of concern since scientific evidence for the medical benefits is limited, contradictory, or non-existent. The U.S. has traditionally used a scientific approach to approval of medications to guarantee a known efficacy, dose, and purity. That approach to acceptance of medications is in distinct contrast to the products being produced in many fields and barns by growers with minimal knowledge of quality control, extraction processes, contents, or efficacy of the final product.


  • Cannabis
  • sativa
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol
  • THC
  • Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid
  • THCA
  • Cannabidiol
  • CBD
  • Cannabidiolic acid
  • CBDA
  • Marijuana
  • Hemp
  • Ganja
  • Pot

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-45968-0_1
  • Chapter length: 21 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
USD   79.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-45968-0
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   99.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 1.1
Fig. 1.2
Fig. 1.3
Fig. 1.4
Fig. 1.5
Fig. 1.6





Cannabidiolic acid


Cannabidiol carboxylic acid


Colorado Code of Regulations


Controlled Substances Act


U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration


U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Farm Bill:

Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018


National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine


Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration


Substance Abuse Mental Health Data Archives


Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid




Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid




United Kingdom


United States


  1. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [Internet]. World drug report 2016, p. 43. [Cited 2019 Aug 15]. Available from:

  2. Ujvary I, Hanus L. Human metabolites of cannabidiol: a review on their formation, biological activity, and relevance in therapy. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2016;1(1):90–101.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  3. ElSohly M, Gul W. Constituents of Cannabis sativa. In: Pertwee RG, editor. Handbook of Cannabis. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2014. p. 3–22.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Drug Enforcement Administration [Internet]. Denial of petition to initiate proceedings to reschedule marijuana [Cited 2019 Aug 11]. Federal Register 2016; 81(156):5368853-766. Available from:

  5. Hemp Industries Association [Internet]. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. [Cited 2019 May 30]. Available from:

  6. Drug Enforcement Administration [Internet]. Establishment of a new drug code for marijuana extract. [Cited 2019 May 30]. Available from:

  7. H.R. 2 (115th): Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) p. 529 [Internet]. [Cited 2019 Jul 9]. Available from:

  8. SAMHSA [Internet]. Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Figure 12. [Cited 2019 Aug 21]. Available from:

  9. SAMHDA [Internet]. Interactive NSDUH State Estimates. [Cited 2019 Jun 18]. Available from:

  10. Adams R, Hunt M, Clark JH. Structure of cannabidiol, a product isolated from the marihuana extract of Minnesota wild hemp. J Am Chem Soc. 1940;62:196–200.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Gaoni Y, Mechoulam R. Isolation, structure and partial synthesis of an active constituent of hashish. J Am Chem Soc. 1964;86:1646–7.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Justice, and Health and Human Services [Internet]. Statement of principles on industrial hemp. Notices, Federal Register 2016 81;156:53395-6.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Citti C, Pacchetti B, Vandelli MA, Forni F, Cannazza G. Analysis of cannabinoids in commercial hemp seed oil and decarboxylation kinetics studies of cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2018;149:532–40.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. DeMeijer EPM, van der Kamp HJ, van Eeuwijk FA. Characterization of cannabis accessions with regard to cannabinoid content and relation to other plant characters. Euphytica. 1992;62(3):187–200.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. U.S. Department of Agriculture [Internet]. Industrial hemp in the United States: status and market potential. p 2. [Cited 2019 Jun 2]. Available from:

  16. Cirovic N, Kecmanovic M, Keckarevic D, Markovic MK. Differentiation of cannabis subspecies by THCA synthase gene analysis using RFLP. J Forensic Legal Med. 2017;51:81–4.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Ross SA, ElSohly MA. The volatile oil composition of fresh and air-dried buds of Cannabis sativa. J Nat Prod. 1996;59:49–51.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Potter DJ. Cannabis horticulture. In: Pertwee RG, editor. Handbook of Cannabis. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2014. p. 65–88.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Growweedeasy [Internet]. How to grow cannabis in 10 easy steps. [Cited 2019 Jun 18]. Available from:

  20. Colorado Department of Revenue [Internet]. Report on market size and demand for marijuana in Colorado 2017:market update. [Cited 2019 Jun 18]. Available from:

  21. Mehmedic Z, Chandra S, Slade D, Denham H, Foster S, Patel AS, et al. Potency trends of delta(9)–THC and other cannabinoids in confiscated cannabis preparations from 1993-2008. J Forensic Sci. 2010;55:1209–17.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. ElSohly MA, Ross SA, Mehmedic Z, Arafat R, Yi B, Banahan BF. Potency trends of delta-9–THC and other cannabinoids in confiscated marijuana from 1980-1997. J Forensic Sci. 2000;45:24–30.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Chandra S, Radwan MM, Majumdar CG, Church JC, Freeman TP, ElSohly MA. New trends in cannabis potency in USA and Europe during the last decade (2008-2017). Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2019;269:5–15.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Code of Colorado Regulations [Internet]. 1 CCR 212-1 Medical Marijuana Rules. [Cited 2019 Jul 9]. Available from:

  25. McLaren J, Swift W, Dillon P, Allsop S. Cannabis potency and contamination: a review of the literature. Addiction. 2008;103:1100–9.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Wall ME, Sadler BM, Brine D, Taylor H, Perez-Reyes M. Metabolism, disposition, and kinetics of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in men and women. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1983;34:352–63.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Maertens RM, White PA, Rickert W, Levasseur G, Douglas GR, Bellier PV, et al. The genotoxicity of mainstream and sidestream marijuana and tobacco smoke condensates. Chem Res Toxicol. 2009;22:1406–14.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. California Environmental Protection Agency [Internet]. Evidence on the carcinogenicity of marijuana smoke. August 2009. 2019. Available from:

  29. Loflin M, Earleywine M. A new method of cannabis ingestion: the dangers of dabs? Addict Behav. 2014;39:1430–3.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Moir D, Rickert WS, Levasseur G, Larose Y, Maertens R, White P, et al. A comparison of mainstream and sidestream marijuana and tobacco cigarette smoke produced under two machine smoking conditions. Chem Res Toxicol. 2008;21:494–502.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Huestis MA, Smith ML. Cannabinoid pharmacokinetics and disposition in alternative matrices. In: Pertwee RG, editor. Handbook of Cannabis. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2014. p. 296–316.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Cone EJ, Bigelow GE, Herrmann ES, Mitchell JM, LoDico C, Flegal R, et al. Non-smoker exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke. I. Urine screening and confirmation results. J Anal Toxicol. 2015;39:1–12.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Whitehill JM, Harrington C, Lang CJ, Chary M, Bhutta WA, Burns MM. Incidence of pediatric cannabis exposure among children and teenagers aged 0 to 19 years before and after medical marijuana legalization in Massachusetts. JAMA Network Open. 2019;2(8):e199456. Epub 2019 Aug 16.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Huestis MA. Cannabis (marijuana) – effects on human behavior and performance. Forensic Sci Rev. 2002;14:15–60.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. Rosenbaum CD, Carreiro SP, Babu KM. Here today, gone tomorrow…and back again? A review of herbal marijuana alternatives (k2, spice), synthetic cathinones (bath salts), kratom, salvia divinorum, methoxetamine, and piperazines. J Med Toxicol. 2012;8:15–32.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  36. Auwarter V, Dresen S, Weinmann W, Muller M, Putz M, Ferreiros N. “Spice” and other herbal blends: harmless incense or cannabinoid designer drugs. J Mass Spectrom. 2009;44:832–7.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. Schluttenhofer C, Yuan L. Challenges towards revitalizing hemp: a multifaceted crop. Trends Plant Sci. 2017;22:917–29.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Colorado Department of Agriculture [Internet]. Colorado Hemp Advancement and Management Plan (CHAMP). 2019. Available from:

  39. Yang Y, Lewis MM, Bello AM, Wasilewski E, Clarke HA, Kotra LP. Cannabis sativa (hemp) seeds, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and potential overdose. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2:274–81.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  40. Fortner N, Fogerson R, Lindman D, Iversen T, Armbruster D. Marijuana-positive urine test results from consumption of hemp seeds in food products. J Anal Toxicol. 1997;21:476–81.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Alt A, Reinhardt G. Positive cannabis results in urine and blood after consumption of hemp food products. J Anal Toxicol. 1998;22:80–1.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  42. Chinello M, Scommegna S, Shardlow A, Mazzoli F, De Giovanni N, Fucci N, et al. Cannabinoid poisoning by hemp seed oil in a child. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2017;33:344–5.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Bozy TZ, Cole KA. Consumption and quantitation of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol in commercially available hemp seed oil products. J Anal Toxicol. 2000;24:562–6.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Hilderbrand R. Hemp and Cannabidiol: what is a medicine? Mo Med. 2018;115(4):306–9.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  45. Bonn-Miller MG, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling accuracy of cannabidiol extracts sold online. Research Letter. JAMA. 2017;318:1708–9.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  46. National Institute of Food and Agriculture [Internet]. Industrial hemp. [Cited 2019 Jun 2]. Available from:

  47. Food and Drug Administration [Internet]. Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on signing of the Agricultural Improvement Act and the agency’s regulation of products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived products. [Cited 2019 May 30]. Available from:

  48. Food and Drug Administration [Internet]. FDA is committed to sound, science-based policy on CBD. [Cited 2019 Jul 8]. Available from:

  49. Food and Drug Administration [Internet]. FDA regulation of cannabis and cannabis-derived products: Questions and Answers. Question 9. [Cited 2019 Jun 3]. Available from

  50. Food and Drug Administration [Internet]. Scientific data and information about products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds; public hearing. [Cited 2019 Aug 20]. Available from:

  51. Russo EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoids entourage effects. Br J Pharmacol. 2011;163:1344–64.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  52. JustCBD [Internet]. Our products. [Cited 2019 Jul 15]. Available from:

  53. Arkell TR, Lintzeris N, Kevin RC, Ramaekers JG, Vandrey R, Irwin C, et al. Cannabidiol (CBD) content in vaporized cannabis does not prevent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-induced impairment of driving and cognition. Psychopharmacology. 2019;236:2713–24.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  54. Food and Drug Administration [Internet]. FDA approves first drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy. [Cited 2019 Aug 11]. Available from:

  55. Greenwich Biosciences [Internet]. Full prescribing information for Epidiolex® oral solutions. 2018. [Cited 2019 Jun 27]. Available from:

  56. Department of Justice, DEA [Internet]. Schedules of controlled substances: placement in schedule V of certain FDA-approved drugs containing cannabidiol; corresponding change to permit requirements. [Cited 2019 Aug 11]. Available from:

  57. 57. Food and Drug Administration [Internet]. Warning Letter: Stanley Brothers Social Enterprises 31 Oct 2017. [Cited 2019 Jun 21]. Available from:

  58. Food and Drug Administration [Internet]. Warning Letter: That’s Natural 31 Oct 2017. [Cited 2019 Jun 21]. Available from:

  59. Colorado Revised Statutes [Internet]. HB18-1295. 2018. [Cited 2019 Jun 27]. Available from:

  60. Adams R, Pease DC, Cain CK, Clark JH. Structure of cannabidiol. VI. Isomerization of cannabidiol to tetrahydrocannabinol, a physiologically active product. Conversion of cannabidiol to cannabinol. J Am Chem Soc. 1940;62:2402–5.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  61. Gaoni Y, Mechoulam R. Hashish-VII, the isomerization of cannabidiol to tetrahydrocannabinols. Tetrahedron. 1966;22:1481–8.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  62. Harvey DJ, Mechoulam R. Metabolites of cannabidiol identified in human urine. Xenobiotica. 1990;20:303–20.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  63. Harvey DJ, Samara E, Mechoulam R. Urinary metabolites of cannabidiol in dog, rat and man and their identification by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. J Chromatogr. 1991;562:299–322.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  64. Watanabe K, Itokawa Y, Yamaori S, Funahashi T, Kimura T, Kaji T, et al. Conversion of cannabidiol to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and related cannabinoids in artificial gastric juice, and their pharmacological effects in mice. Forensic Toxicol. 2007;25:16–21.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Merrick J, Lane B, Sebree T, Yaksh T, O’Neill C, Banks SL. Identification of psychoactive degradants of cannabidiol in simulated gastric and physiological fluid. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2016;1:102–12.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  66. Grotenhermen F, Russo E, Zuardi AW. Even high doses of oral cannabidol do not cause THC-like effects in humans: comment on Merrick et al. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2016;1:102–12. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2:1–4.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Bonn-Miller MO, Banks SL, Sebree T. Conversion of cannabidiol following oral administration: authors response to Grotenhermen et al. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2(1):5–7.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  68. Nahler G, Grotenhermen F, Zuardi AW, Crippa JAS. A conversion of oral cannabidiol to Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol seems to not occur in humans. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2017;2(1):81–6.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Ewing LE, Skinner CM, Quick CM, Kennon-McGill S, McGill MR, Walker LA, et al. Hepatoxicity of a cannabidiol-rich cannabis extract in the mouse model. Molecules. 2019;24:1694–710.

    CAS  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  70. Pisanti S, Malfitano AM, Ciaglia E, Lamberti A, Ranieri R, Cuomo G, et al. Cannabidiol: state of the art and new challenges for therapeutic applications. Pharmacol Ther. 2017;175:133–50.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  71. Hurd YL. Cannabidiol: Swinging the marijuana pendulum from “weed” to medication to treat the opioid epidemic. Trends Neurosci. 2017;40(3):124–7.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  72. New Cannabis Ventures [Internet]. Study shows CBD is replacing traditional pharmaceuticals. 2017. [Cited 2019 Jun 26]. Available from:

  73. Centennial Institute, Colorado Christian University [Internet]. Economic and social costs of legalized marijuana. [Cited 2019 Aug 20]. Available from:

  74. Monte AA, Shelton SK, Mills E, Saben J, Hopkinson A, Sonn B, et al. Acute illness associated with cannabis use by route of exposure. Ann Intern Med. 2019;170:531–7.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  75. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. The health effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: the current state of evidence and recommendations for research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2017. p. 13–22.

    Google Scholar 

  76. Haug NA, Kieschnick D, Sottile JE, Babson KA, Vandrey R, Bonn-Miller MO. Training and practices of cannabis dispensary staff. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2016;1:244–51.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  77. Vandrey R, Raber JC, Raber ME, Douglass B, Miller C, Bonn-Miller MO. Cannabinoid dose and label accuracy in edible medical cannabis products. Research Letter. JAMA. 2015;313:2491–3.

    Google Scholar 

  78. Raber JC, Elzinga S, Kaplan C. Understanding dabs: contamination concerns of cannabis concentrates and cannabinoid transfer during the act of dabbing. J Toxicol Sci. 2015;40:797–803.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  79. Atakan Z. Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals. Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. 2012;2:241–54.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  80. Rong C, Carmona NE, Lee YL, Ragguett RM, Pan Z, Rosenblat JD, et al. Drug-drug interactions as a result of co-administering Δ9-THC and CBD with other psychotropic agents. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2018;17(1):51–4.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  81. Echeverria-Villalobos M, Todeschini AB, Stoicea N, Fiorda-Diaz J, Weaver T, Bergese SD. Perioperative care of cannabis users: a comprehensive review of pharmacological and anesthetic considerations. J Clin Anesthesia. 2019;57:41–9.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  82. Di Marzo V. Institute of Cannabis Research 2018 Mechoulam Lecture. [Internet]. The phytocannabinoidome and the endocannabinoidome: how close are they? [Cited 2019 Jul 9]. Available from:

  83. PUBMED searched May 20, 2019 by Endnote software.

    Google Scholar 

Download references


The author would like to thank Ms. Kyong Smith, Library Technician, Evans Army Community Hospital, Lane Medical Library, Fort Carson, Colorado, for exceptional assistance with literature searches.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2020 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Hilderbrand, R.L. (2020). The Properties and Use of Cannabis sativa Herb and Extracts. In: Finn, K. (eds) Cannabis in Medicine. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-45967-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-45968-0

  • eBook Packages: MedicineMedicine (R0)