Throughout the world’s long history of marijuana use, humans have created a lot of slang terms for cannabis. In fact, there are over 1,200! Maybe most significantly, the word marijuana itself actually began as a slang term for cannabis and may have been derived from Native or Spanish words for the plant.
Whether you’ve smoked Mary Jane (yet another term) or not, you’ve likely heard many different slang terms for cannabis – but did you know their origins? In this list, we’ll explore words for the various types of cannabis, the many ways people measure and consume it, and terms to describe the distinct sections of the plant. We’ll even cover some words to describe the people who use cannabis.
Where Did Cannabis Slang Come From?
Cannabis slang terms came about for many different reasons, but most were created out of necessity. Since cannabis use has been illegal for most of the 20th and part of the 21st centuries, depending on where you live, the words and terminology surrounding its use were often changed by those within the cannabis culture. Whether the authorities were disapproving parents or law enforcement, frequent cannabis users shifted terms to keep them on their toes. Meanwhile, those in the know would always be one step ahead of those trying to stop their use.
Another reason there are a vast number of terms to describe cannabis is its widespread use around the world. Because so many cultures and languages have their own names for cannabis, those often become cross-cultural terms. In addition, as cannabis use evolved over the centuries,
people naturally needed to come up with terms to describe ways to use cannabis, types of cannabis, accessories for using cannabis, and more. Even now, many celebrities from today’s top cannabis brands reference existing terminology and even create their own. As cannabis use continues to become more accepted, it’s unlikely that the source of the creative terms for the plant will dry up.
How We Refer to Cannabis
Of course, you know the basic cannabis slang terms, including:
- Mary Jane
- And more…
Many terms, especially hash and ganja, come from other cultures’ words for cannabis, namely those in Southeast Asia. While most of these terms remained slang in the US and were used within the cannabis culture for people “in the know,” marijuana gained prominence and became a preferred term in many parts of North America. In fact, many states continue to use the term in their official legislation. However, it does carry with it some cultural connotations that left us wondering – why did marijuana become a mainstream term?
Marijuana Versus Cannabis
In the mid-1800s, before cannabis was illegal in the United States, it was also in use in Mexico. Stories from Mexico began to flood US newspapers, filled with accounts of crimes and other negative events perpetrated by people who had taken “Mexican locoweed,” also termed “marihuana” and anglicized as “marijuana.” Although marihuana at the time did not much resemble today’s cannabis (and was often used to describe a completely different plant variety),
legislators took the opportunity to play into the fear people had of those who used cannabis. As a result, marijuana was primarily associated with lower-class individuals like prisoners, both in Mexico and the US. As fears of “reefer madness” began to spread, the term marijuana may have been deliberately used to sow distrust of Mexican immigrants.
Today, while marijuana is still included in the text of many states’ cannabis laws, the official term for the Cannabis sativa L. plant is cannabis. Cannabis not only describes the classification of the plant itself but also eliminates the negative connotations that swirled around marijuana in the 20th century. Perhaps most importantly, cannabis is the most accepted term used by the rest of the world. While many people advocate for the continued use of the term marijuana so as not to eliminate the important contributions of Mexican culture, it remains a slang term.
Ways to Talk About Cannabis
There are many categories of cannabis terminology, including the plant’s taxonomy (scientific classification), the various strains, associated chemical compounds, consumption methods, forms, products, cannabis users, and more. We’ve broken them down for you and provided some common slang and descriptive terms.
Classifications of Cannabis
There’s more to cannabis than just the product you purchase. Classifying cannabis makes for more specific conversations, including its genetic makeup, what strain it is, whether it’s of good quality, and the various compounds it includes. All these things change the effects you’ll experience, so knowing some of the most common terms can be extremely helpful. Of course, these strains and qualities affect people differently, but there are some effects you can count on.
Terms for the various categories of compounds that make up cannabis include:
This is a group of compounds with similar chemical makeups found in cannabis and some other plants. These compounds interact with the brain and body’s cannabinoid receptors to alter the way the receptors send messages and influence bodily processes. There are over 100 cannabinoid compounds found in cannabis, and most do not create psychoactive effects.
These are the most common:
- THC – This stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, and it is the cannabinoid most responsible for the psychoactive effects, or the “high,” you feel after partaking.
- CBD – CBD, or cannabidiol, is non-impairing and non-euphoric, unlike THC. Generally, its effects include reducing pain and nausea, easing migraines, and preventing seizures.
- Delta 8 THC – This derivative of THC occurs in lower concentrations and is about 20% less psychoactive.
- CBN – A product that occurs when THC breaks down, CBN (cannabinol) may have sedative, anti-seizure, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- CBG – Cannabigerol may have antifungal and neuroprotective benefits.
- CBC – Cannabicrhomene may relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- CBL – Cannabicyclol occurs in low concentrations and does not appear to be psychoactive.
- CBT – Cannabitriol appears to modulate THC’s effects and may reduce its psychoactive nature.
- CBE – Cannabielsoin may be beneficial as a part of the entourage effect.
These flavorful and aromatic compounds naturally occur in all plants, including cannabis. They provide cannabis with its signature, rich aromas and taste and also interact with one another, cannabinoids, and the cannabinoid receptors to influence the way users experience psychoactive and therapeutic effects.
Common terpenes include the following:
- Pinene – A terpene responsible for piny, herbaceous aromas, that may have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
- Myrcene – A terpene that evokes musky, clove aromas and increases the brain’s uptake of the cannabinoids in cannabis.
- Linalool – A terpene that has a woody, lavender-like aroma and has powerful sedative, relaxation, and antidepressant properties.
- Limonene – A citrusy terpene that may have stress-relief and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Humulene – A herbaceous, hoppy terpene that appears to have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Caryophyllene – A peppery terpene that is the only known terpene that does not impede THC’s interaction with cannabinoid receptors.
Want a terpene “cheat sheet” to refer to? Check out this Terpenes Infographic Print from our friends over at Goldleaf. You can pick up one for yourself or the cannabis lover in your life. They make awesome gifts.
Terms for the classification, types, and varieties of cannabis strains include:
- Sativa – Naturally found in hot, dry climates, this cannabis species offers lower CBD levels and higher THC levels. Its effects include an energizing, creativity-inducing high.
- Indica – This species has adapted to harsh and dry climates and boasts high CBD and THC. The effects are often relaxing and pain-reducing.
- Hybrid – Hybrid species of cannabis are constantly changing and are made up of various parent plant combinations. Usually found in greenhouses, they are created by blending sativa and indica species and may exhibit the effects of both.
The quality of the cannabis you use can alter the effect it has on you and your body. Sure, high-quality cannabis is expensive, but it’s usually well worth the cost – and the price is justified by the intensive care required to produce it, small batches, and limited availability. Most dispensaries indicate their best cannabis products with appropriate terms, but offer affordable options as well.
Terms for the various quality tiers of cannabis quality include:
- Reserve – Typically used for the highest quality cannabis products, this tier is often hand-watered, hand-trimmed, and carefully cured to exhibit premium effects.
- Top-Shelf – These varieties are another high-quality tier of cannabis, often with high potency and rare hybrids.
- High-Grade – Another word for top-shelf flower, high-grade cannabis is handled with care due to its often-potent side effects.
- Mids – Another term for more affordable, mid-grade cannabis, usually the lowest-grade cannabis available at a reputable dispensary.
- Regs – Also known as reggies, regular, or schwag, this term refers to lower grade cannabis not found in reputable dispensaries.
Words Associated With Using Cannabis
When considering the various cannabis terms, you can’t forget the process of actually using the product. There are a lot of slang names for cannabis and just as many slang phrases for what users do with it.
Here are some common ones:
- Getting high or feeling high – This occurs when you experience the uplifting, euphoric, and psychoactive effects of high-THC cannabis.
- Blaze – Originally referring to the light at the end of a blunt, blaze refers to smoking cannabis.
- Toke – This term refers to inhaling or smoking cannabis through a bong, joint, or blunt.
- Vape – This slang term means smoking or inhaling cannabis oil, concentrates, or dry cannabis through a vaporizer.Vape – This slang term means smoking or inhaling cannabis oil, concentrates, or dry cannabis through a vaporizer.
- Smoke a Bowl – This term links directly to smoking cannabis through a smoking pipe or bong but is sometimes used in a more general way to mean the simple act of smoking.
- Dab – Dabbing refers to the use of concentrated butane hash oil, which has highly concentrated THC. It’s smoked out of a rig, and the name comes from dabbing the cannabis concentrate on the bottom of the rig.
- Steamroll – Most literally, this refers to a steamroller pipe, which is one of the simplest ways to smoke cannabis.
- Burn Trees – Burning trees refers to the act of smoking dried cannabis flower.
Ways of Consuming Cannabis
Consumers can use cannabis in a variety of ways, from bowls to bongs to bubblers to blunts. Cannabis also comes in tinctures, oils, vaporizers, and more.
Here are some of the most common ways you can consume cannabis:
- Dabbing – This refers to consuming cannabis dabs through a heating tool like a rig or vaporizer.
- Joint – A joint is a rolled cannabis cigarette and looks much like a regular hand-rolled cigarette.
- Blunts – Cigars, cigarillos, or cheaper cigarettes are often emptied of tobacco and filled with cannabis.
- Bowls – When smoking a cannabis pipe, this term refers to the part of the pipe that holds the cannabis.
- Hand Pipe – This is the most common type of pipe used for cannabis smoking. They sit in the palm of your hand, hence the name.
- Bongs – This is a common name for a water pipe used to smoke cannabis.
- Bubbler – This is a small smoking device that may look much like a pipe but uses water like a bong.
- Vape Pen – This handheld way of vaporizing cannabis includes a battery attached to a cannabis concentrate cartridge.
- Disposables – Also known as disposable carts, disposables are a non-reusable type of vape pen or vaporizer. A disposable cartridge connects to both the battery and the mouthpiece, while a disposable pen can be tossed after it is empty.
Names for Cannabis Users
When it comes to cannabis slang terms, we can’t leave cannabis users out of the equation. It turns out that there’s plenty more creativity to go around. The people who celebrate cannabis have a number of names as well. In the past, many nicknames for cannabis users fed into negative stereotypes (think stoner, pothead, and burnout). As the image of cannabis has evolved, so has the view of cannabis users.
We now know that cannabis users aren’t all lazy kids, so let’s end the stigma and explore some positive terms for people who use cannabis:
- Buds – Buds is an excellent term to describe smoking buddies and cannabis enthusiasts.
- Cannabisseur – This is one of our favorite terms for a cannabis user and describes a cannabis connoisseur.
- Weedtrepreneur – The cannabis industry version of an entrepreneur.
- Tokers – The term originated with the slang term “to toke,” meaning to take a hit of cannabis.
- Chiefer – A person that smokes cannabis, potentially derived from “reefer.”
- Spliff Queen/King – Someone highly skilled at rolling joints.
- Herbivore – This term usually describes a plant-eater, but in the cannabis world, herbivore describes a cannabis enthusiast.
- Herbalist – A cannabis user who loves all things green and leafy.
- Space Cowboy – Steve Miller Band’s song “The Joker” refers to someone who smokes a few times, namely as a joker, a smoker, and a midnight toker. The song also mentions that people call the singer a “space cowboy.”
- High Flyer – Taken from the psychoactive effects of cannabis, this term describes those experiencing the sensation.
Cannabis Phrases and Quotes
There are a number of common quotes, jokes, sayings, and phrases about cannabis – though some of them may have been funnier when you were high.
Here are our favorite quotes:
“If the words ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ don’t include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn’t worth the hemp it was written on.” ― Terence McKenna
“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.” ― Carl Sagan
“I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here.” ― Willie Nelson
“Cannabis sativa speaks for itself – it’s good medicine and can replace hundreds if not thousands of synthetic chemicals used throughout society today.” ― Jack Herer
“It would be wryly interesting if in human history, the cultivation of marijuana led generally to the invention of agriculture, and thereby to civilization!” ― Carl Sagan
Reflecting on Cannabis Slang
This list is definitely not comprehensive. In fact, there are likely thousands of terms for marijuana and marijuana-centric activities, with more cropping up every day. Thanks to an illegal past and a creative present, it’s likely that cannabis culture will continue to feature an ever-evolving language.
We invite you to join us in helping to shape cannabis’ ongoing history – subscribe to the Dank Budz blog for more cannabis community news.