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What Do Cranberries and Cannabis Have in Common?

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

This article is brought to you by the new Higher Learning LV Core Cannabis course.


The emerging cannabis industry is rife with creative marketing and always trying to produce effective product promotion tie-ins for holiday and seasonal themes. In this vein—and because Higher Learning LV caters to industry professionals—how do cannabis and hemp potentially relate to autumnal themes such as Halloween, Octoberfest, and Thanksgiving?

One such thematic opportunity is cranberries and something that they have in common with cannabis.

And the commonality between cranberries and cannabis?

Terpenes. These volatile aromatic molecules play a dominant role in creating the pungent aroma of many examples of marijuana. This is all quite appropriate, especially considering that cannabis in 2022 surpassed cranberries as the number one crop in Massachusetts.

Terpineol, Limonene, Nerol

Like thousands of other botanical species, cranberries make essential oils. Within this oil are many terpenes that are common in hemp and cannabis, including terpineol, limonene, and nerol, which typically dominate the mix. Scientific research dating back to the 1960s revealed that terpenes are responsible for much of the aroma and flavor of cranberries (along with other types of molecules, including benzaldehyde, benzyl benzoate, eugenol, vanillic acid, and cinnamic acid).

"Scientific research dating back to the 1960s revealed that terpenes are responsible for much of the aroma and flavor of cranberries."

While terpenes have been found to provide a range of wellness attributes to the humans and mammals that consume them, their chief biochemical function is aroma and flavor. In cranberries, limonene works with sibling terpenes and other chemicals (esters, ketones, and acetates, among others) to form their uniquely floral and fruity aroma, with notes of "mellow" and "green and grass," according to one 2016 research study.

In addition to limonene, the alpha and beta varieties of pinene together constitute about one-third of one percent of the essential oil of cranberries and are found in hundreds of cultivars ("strains") of cannabis and hemp. Another common terpene between these two popular botanical species is myrcene, which makes up about 0.2 percent of cranberry essential oil.

Some patients who suffer Post-traumatic Stress Disorder should avoid the terpene pinene because, according to Janice Bissex, it may reinforce traumatic memories. Learn more in the Cannabis Commerce + Chemistry Podcast No. 7.

Myrcene is one of the most common terpenes produced by cannabis and hemp. In addition to cranberries and cannabis, it is made in notable quantities by nutmeg, another popular plant during autumn and winter. Likewise, cinnamon produces camphene, a common terpene from cannabis.

"Cinnamon and cloves both make copious amounts of beta-caryophyllene, one of the most common terpenes in marijuana."

Cinnamon and cloves both make copious amounts of beta-caryophyllene (BCP and also known simply as caryophyllene), one of the most common terpenes in marijuana. Ginger produces the terpene bisabolol (also called alpha-bisabolol and levomenol), another terpene of note produced by pot.

Like what you just read? Check out our new Cannabis for Cancer Hub that features links to all of our articles about marijuana for cancer.

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