A Brief History of Weed Slang

Knowing The Lingo

Having trouble keeping your Lady Jane, cannabinoids, and potiguaya straight? If so, you’re not alone.

Marijuana goes by a number of names, and weed slang terms are constantly changing.

Let’s look at how English has borrowed terms from various times and places to give us all the colourful words we use to describe marijuana.


Ancient Roots for Modern Weed Slang

You may associate Ganja with Jamaican Rastafarianism, but the term is far older. It comes to English from the Sanskrit word for hemp. That part of the world also gives us kush, from the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Slaves and servants carried the word ganja with them across the Atlantic Ocean and into the Caribbean.

Sailing terminology may also be responsible for the term reefer. Some etymologists believe rolled joints resemble rolled -- or reefed -- ship sails. Others believe the word comes from grifo, a Spanish word for frizzy that is a colloquial term for being high. 


How Anti-Immigration Proponents Popularized New Weed Slang

Much of modern weed slang comes from Spanish. During the United States Great Depression, Mexican immigrants tried to enter the U.S. for work, and many Americans wanted to refuse them entry. Cannabis opponents began calling weed marijuana (or marihuana) because of its Mexican roots to play on anti-immigration sentiment.

Marijuana went on to inspire related terms like Mary Jane. Spanish also gives us the term pot. This slang is short for potiguaya - a South American drink made by soaking cannabis leaves wine or liquor.


Weed Slang of the Jazz Age

Jazz aficionados in the 1930s and 1940s gave us terms like muggles, moocah, and Indian hay to describe marijuana. Joints were goof-butts and giggle-smokes sold by pushers. Customers were referred to as vipers. 

Pushers would ask if potential buyers were “laying down the hustle.”  If so, vipers could buy an ace, a deuce, or a deck to indicate whether they wanted one, two, or several joints.

Not all these terms stuck, but Jazz Age marijuana enthusiasts also called the plant weed and grass. Both of these terms would continue to grow in popularity into the 1960s and 1970s.


Contemporary Weed Slang

Grass and weed both refer to marijuana’s appearance, as do other slang terms still in use, such as bud, green, herb, and nugs.

Today, much of weed slang includes scientific terms such as cannabinoids, which are the molecules in marijuana that have medicinal properties. 

Many enthusiasts also refer to their weed by the name of its specific strain or blend. This precise identity can help them determine the potency, appearance, and effects of the specified strain.

Some words describe the variety of ways people enjoy pot. For example, you have edibles, shatter, topicals, and hash. All contain weed, but they do not look anything alike.


Visit Cheeba’s for Reefer, MJ, or Whatever You Choose to Call it


No matter what weed slang you use, Cheeba’s has you covered. We carry jazz cigarettes, pot candy, and marijuana products of all kinds. Check out what Cheeba’s has in stock today!

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