Marijuana is a world-renowned substance and is surrounded by an entire culture of committed enthusiasts who have invented and popularized a wide array of terms for cannabis. If you’re unfamiliar with stoner culture, it’s good to know what you could, would, and should say if someone asks you if you want to ‘blaze’! So, pay attention to some of some of these terms so you’re not lost in translation next time you hear your friends referring to their dear friend Mary Jane who’s going to be dropping in for a hot minute. If you say these words with enough confidence and in the right context, the next stoners you meet may just teach you how to dab.
Why do Marijuana Slang Terms Exist?
Cannabis prohibition is the reason that there are so many marijuana slang terms. After several hundred years of people and cannabis coexisting together, the first-ever law that created a limit on the distribution of marijuana, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, was technically not a federal ban at all but a law that required taxes and licenses. The Marihuana Tax Act was ruled unconstitutional by the courts in 1969 in Leary v. United States because the law forced one to incriminate oneself to comply with it. Marijuana (Cannabis) became a Schedule 1 substance in the United States in 1970.
This is the response regarding the War on Drugs and cannabis prohibition from John Ehrlichman, President Nixon’s top advisor, in a 1994 interview:
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Sadly, not much has changed in the last several decades in terms of the level of racism intertwined in cannabis prohibition, even with 47 out of 50 states having introduced laws that legalize weed in some form.
So, why are there so many marijuana slang terms? Because the legacy market was forced to get creative in how they communicated about this plant. In order to run business efficiently it was essential that operators had terminology to use that was different than terminology used by law enforcement. Still today, even in legalized states and countries, slang terminology for cannabis can be found all over the world.
How Extensive is Weed Terminology?
If you are an avid toker, it is inexcusable to not know some of the lexicon of your fellow stoners. If you’re new to the world of cannabis—buckle up. There are WAY too many to keep count of them all, however, it is handy to know the most common and popular slang terms used throughout the states today. It should be noted that these terms are most common in the US, as other countries have different ways of referring to cannabis. Having some of these terms in your back pocket will get you a lot further than you may think; check out the list below!
List of Marijuana and Cannabis Slang Terms (alphabetical order):
- Assassin of youth
This comes from the 1937 film of the same name that highlights the “ill effects” of marijuana use. This will more likely be used by a person who sees drugs in a negative connotation.
- Aunt Mary
The sister of the mother of our good friend Mary Jane. Aunt Mary can often be referred to as weed that has been going stale or unused for a long period of time.. AKA pretty old kush (see kush below)
Bash is a shortened version of the phrase bashed weed. Bashed weed or “bash” is herbal cannabis that has been sprayed with a substance to make it weigh more.
A giant missile launch…. Wait that’s not what it…. This is TheWeedBlog, and Bazooka (Also called Bazooka Joe) is a certain strain of cannabis that is very popular amongst the community.
This originates from New York, with the cigar company “Phillies Blunt”. This is where you change out the tobacco for cannabis. Just as some choose to only vape weed, some people will only smoke blunts, because that is their lifestyle, and we salute these individuals wholeheartedly!
- Burning bush
While the actual bush itself is a direct reference to the Bible when Moses spoke to God in this bush that was literally burning—this is a top quality slang term for smoking cannabis. People also believe that the bush could’ve been a marijuana plant and that’s how Moses saw God, but who’s to say? All you need to know is Snoop Dogg loves this phrase!
While on the subject of Snoop, according to him, chronic was initially a misunderstanding of the word hydroponic. In cannabis cultivation, hydroponic refers to the process of growing marijuana using a series of irrigation systems. The phrase took off when he and Dr. Dre released the album “Deeez Nuuuts” where he sings “It’s back on the track / With big money, big nuts, and a big fat chronic sack.”
When not describing something as “moist” and “humid” like the underarms of myself after a session of hot yoga, dank is a slang term to describe the unmistakable wafts of cannabis aroma and can also be used to describe something as “top-notch” or “excellent”—especially marijuana. Consider the latter use to be along similar lines to ‘dope.’
This is pulled straight from urban dictionary, because it’s perfect:
“Old people definition: Marijuana
Southern definition: Meth
Northern definition Heroin
Also dope can mean awesome.”
Many argue over the origin of this term but it seems a fan favorite theory is that this comes from Scooby-DOOBIE-Doo! Since Shaggy was obviously a stoner (C’mon, he ALWAYS had the munchies going on) this expression started popping up more and more.
When rolling a joint or blunt, most people love to pack in as much weed as they possibly can. The more you pack, the bigger or “Fatter” that stick of reefer is, which you may now refer to as a “Fatty”.
This one should be obvious, but it’s actually a great term to use for discreet conversation about exchanging weed. As marijuana is a type of plant/herb the bud or part that you grow is the “Flower,” if someone asks if you have any flower, they are asking if you have any weed. To the common eavesdropper, you are likely just discussing how much flour you need for those blueberry muffins (wink) you’ll be baking later.
The Ganges River in India is famous for the indica cannabis growing alongside it. When it eventually made its way to the west, the name “Ganja” stuck with Americans, and, thus, it became synonymous with weed.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the term “grass” was in vogue. Most of the cannabis available back then was green and was not of the best quality, often resembling that of grass clippings. It’s also important for you to know that cannabis is mentioned in the Hindu sacred text Atharvaveda (Science of Charms) as “sacred grass,” and is one of the five sacred plants of India. Sacred grass is used both medicinally and ritually as an offering to Shiva, while other people use recreational marijuana to promote activism.
As a natural plant with many healthy, nutritional and medical properties, marijuana is appropriately and affectionately referred to by many as the “herb”. Though colloquially “herb” is used to refer to the smokable products of the plant.
Stoners across the world concur with this definition of a joint: A joint is ground cannabis that has been rolled up tightly in a rolling paper. Sometimes referred to as a “j” or “jay,” these often khaki colored papers are a quick-tell someone is not offering to smoke you out an American Spirit.
Kush is a strain of indica Cannabis. The origins of Kush stem from landrace plants, mainly found in Afghanistan, Northern Pakistan and North-Western India. This is a very popular term and often rhymed with bush in the world of rap.
- Mary Jane
Whether “Mary Jane” or “marijuana” came first is the cannabis community’s “chicken and egg” argument. Regardless of where either word came from, “marijuana” is a universal term for weed in most countries. And “Mary Jane” is, as well. Fun little fact, some Spanish smokers refer to cannabis simply as “Maria,” while the French sometimes call it “Marie Jeanne.”
The origin of pot has nothing to do with culinary items used in the kitchen to make stew. The word came into American language in the late 1930s. It is a shortening of the Spanish word potiguaya or potaguaya that came from potación de guaya, a wine or brandy in which buds or the flower of maijuana have been steeped. It literally translates to “the drink of grief.” We tend to disagree.
On sailing ships, the act of reefing a sail is used for folding or rolling one edge of the canvas in on itself, generally used to condense space on a ship. A “reefer” is the sailor who rolls it. Apparently, a reefed sail resembles that of a joint. The more you know!
A spliff is an old school term your grandpa uses originally referring to any smokable rolled product where you might have to “split” the joint/blunt between tobacco and cannabis. Maybe it’s because you only want to smoke a little bit of weed, but don’t want to roll a pinner—a small excuse for a joint (look at that you’re getting a definition INSIDE of a definition. How meta!) As the term became popular, and the availability of weed became greater, the term began to incorrectly refer to pretty much any type of joint. In European countries, notably the Netherlands, denizens will often prefer spliffs to pure cannabis joints.
Someone’s hidden savings, usually of money or drugs. In this case it’s become a term for a large amount or huge supply of pot.
- Sticky Icky
Another inaccurate term spawned by generations who didn’t understand the benefits of cannabis. “Weed” is defined as a wild plant growing where it is “not wanted” and in competition with cultivated plants. How could a term for cannabis be so off the mark? Cannabis is definitely “wanted” and if it’s “in competition with cultivated plants,” it’s winning hands down, because it is now the most cherished cash crop in modern America.
Blaze it. We’ve all heard this phrase before, but not all of us know exactly why it became popular. In 1971, five high school students in San Rafael, California, used the term “4:20” (which was their meeting time after school) with a plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop, based on a treasure map made by the grower.
While 710 is all things flower related in cannabis culture, this alternative three-digit code is a reference highlighting the magnificent world of concentrates and dabbing! Part of the fun here comes in celebrating 710 by taking a fatter-than-typical dab on July 10th to commemorate the occasion. Further, if you flip the word ‘OIL’ upside down, it becomes. . . well try it. Who ever said stoners weren’t a sharp bunch?
Additional Reading on Cannabis
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