What Do Pumpkins and Cannabis Have in Common?

Updated: Oct 31

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 the humble pumpkin and something that it has in common with cannabis. What North Americans call pumpkins is a term used to refer to several species of winter squash that feature an orange outer layer.


And the commonality between pumpkins and cannabis?


Terpenes. These volatile aromatic molecules play a dominant role in creating the pungent aroma of many examples of marijuana.


Limonene, Pinene, & Linalool Terpenes

Like thousands of other botanical species, orange winter squash varieties make essential oils. Within this oil is one of the most common molecules in hemp and cannabis, a terpene called limonene. It is produced in greater volume by pumpkins than any other terpene, sometimes forming between four and seven percent of the essential oil.


"In addition to limonene, pinene (both alpha and beta varieties) constitutes two to three percent of the essential oil of pumpkins."

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 pumpkins, limonene works with sibling terpenes and other chemicals (esters, ketones, and acetates, among others) to form a uniquely spicy and tangy aroma.


In addition to limonene, pinene (both alpha and beta varieties) constitutes two to three percent of the essential oil of pumpkins and are found in hundreds of cultivars ("strains") of cannabis and hemp. Another common terpene between these two popular botanical species is linalool, which adds floral notes of pine to the aroma of a pumpkin—or cannabis loose-leaf flowers.


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. It is also made in notable quantities by nutmeg, another popular plant during autumn and winter. Likewise, cinnamon produces camphene, a common terpene in cannabis.


"Cinnamon and cloves both produce copious amounts of beta-caryophyllene (BCP and also known simply as caryophyllene), one of the most common terpenes in cannabis."

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.


Cooking with Pumpkin, Terpenes, & Cannabis

According to Doc MJ, a group of certified medical marijuana physicians in Florida, cannabis consumers can combine their herb of choice with pumpkin and spices to enhance their holiday celebrations with the following recipe ideas.

  • Infuse cannabis extract or distillate into butter or oil and use it in pumpkin pies and cookies.

  • Make a pumpkin cheesecake using cannabutter instead of regular butter or margarine when preparing the crust.

  • Slowly infuse cannabis extract or distillate into milk and use it to make a cannabis/pumpkin spice latte.

  • Use cannabutter as an ingredient in pumpkin soup.

  • Make cannabis pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. The pumpkin adds moisture to the cookie mix, helping it maintain a moist quality and preventing drying out.


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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