Weed Slang Terms

Street Names for Marijuana

A brief history of hemp and marijuana slang:

420 is code for pot culture and the time and date when we celebrate the gritty green. Where did 420 come from?
It was popularized by the Grateful Dead, the poster-child rock band for psychedelic ecstasy and blissful marijuana moments. It’s said to have started as police code for marijuana smoking is happening afoot. Police would say, I got a 420 when he sees a kid smoking on the curb, and would go over to ruin his day and possibly his life by throwing him in prison. Tragic. Anyway, the locals picked up on the code and started using it as slang. We suppose this story is set in California, America’s bud basket.
Another theory of the origins of 420 is that it started with a gang of Californian pothead kids called the Waldos. These kids would get together after school at 4:20 pm to blaze up a joint (after extracurricular activities end). One of these kids becomes a roadie for the Grateful Dead, and the band starts using 420 to describe an imminent blunt blowing session. The band started throwing 420 parties and the code took off around the country and around the world. 4/20 or April 20th, was then christened: “Weed Day”. The infamous Dead made a flyer for their 420 weed party and a copy was published by High Times magazine, further spreading the idea.

Figure 1.


The term marijuana has a history shrouded in mystery. There are homophones from Aztec language to Chinese. The term was popularized by the first director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the 1930s. He wanted a foreign-sounding term to use to incriminate the substance. He wanted to associate it with groups who were being demonized, namely blacks and Hispanics. FBN Director Harry Anslinger testified before Congress saying:
“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind… Most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage.”
The term caught on for usage in official documents and was used by states as they began making the weed illegal, in order to keep law enforcement focused on smiting minorities. A few high profile celebrities were also targeted to bring the point home. It’s too awkward a word for slang usage, so it was shortened to Mary Jane for semi-slang use. In any case, Harry Anslinger’s efforts put the country into the weed Dark Ages.

The Dark Times of the Weed Joint in the United States

In the 1930s, Harry Anslinger, the Director of the Bureau of Narcotics launched a campaign to get rid of marijuana and imprison those who use it.
He used public service announcements in movie theaters to scare white audiences into thinking weed makes minorities lust after white women and causes various maladies.
The movie Reefer Madness expressed the culmination of weed hysteria by featuring weed users who commit murders and go insane from using marijuana. The propaganda campaign had the effect of causing a backlash against weed throughout the country.
What’s slang for cannabis drugs and how and why do people use it for things that get you high?
People generally used weed slang because weed was illegal and you had to refer to it without drawing attention to the fact that you are doing something illegal. When buying weed or looking for a seller, for example, one wants to use a name which is somewhat ambiguous. A weed, for example, can refer to any plant unwanted in a garden. 420 has no clear linguistic connection to weed, so it’s an appropriate code. Dank, herb, green, are all sufficiently ambiguous so that you don’t draw unwanted attention.

Figure 2. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Marijuana-Theme-Weed-Slang-Terms-Fridge-Magnet-Size-2-5-x-3-7-/362581502767

Why is marijuana called pot?

It’s intuitive to think the word pot comes from the fact that weed can be grown indoors in a pot. However, it is claimed the term pot has a more colorful origin. It comes from the Spanish ‘potiguaya’, which is a type of wine that contains marijuana. It apparently means ‘drink of grief’ (potación de guaya). Americans began using the shortened term ‘pot’, for the smokable forms of cannabis Sativa.

Cannabis Slang Terms Around the World


ganja burn to mean: this means burning Jamaican or Caribbean weed. It’s the name of an album by rapper Nicki Minaj, an artist born in Trinidad and Tobago.
grass: this is possibly a 70s term, recognizing the ubiquity of weed or hemp in the natural setting. It grows all around like grass. A friend in India mentioned his yard was full of naturally growing dank ganja, and people just used weed killers on it. It was not a priority in that culture, though they have a long ancient history using the sticky icky in BC times.


  • Skunk
  • Teahead
  • Zoot
  • Peng


  • Hash
  • Ganja
  • Bhang


  • Sagada gold
  • Hash


  • Choof
  • Hooch

New Zealand

  • Electric Puha


  • Soapbar Hash


  • Hennep
  • Wiet


  • Hasch
  • Gras


  • Hierba
  • Grifo
  • Pacheo
  • Mota


  • Rev


  • Porro
  • Mota


  • Blossi

South Africa

  • Dagga


  • Le Shit
  • Petard
  • La beuh


  • Maconha
  • Beck
  • Erva


  • Hashish
  • Petard


  • Weed


  • Hasch
  • Petard
  • Ganja

Figure 3.(Dmitry Tishchenko/Dreamstime.com)

List of Top Cannabis weed nicknames

  1. 420.
  2. Blaze.
  3. Blunt.
  4. Boom.
  5. Buds.
  6. Cannabis.
  7. Chronic.
  8. Dope.
  9. Ganga.
  10. Grass.
  11. Hay.
  12. Herb.
  13. Joint.
  14. Mary Jane.
  15. Nuggets.
  16. Pot.
  17. Reefer.
  18. Rope.
  19. Skunk.
  20. Stinkweed.
  21. Weed.

Some unusual, recent different types of marijuana names

Top 15 slang names for the gritty green cannabis

  1. Buddha: referring to origins in India, and the peace-loving meditative emotion of the religious figure Siddhartha Gautama Buddha
  2. Chiba: Mexican Spanish, possibly originally referred to goats
  3. Dank: referring to stickiness, fragrance
  4. Ganja: Started off as a Hindi term for weed, now mostly used in Jamaica
  5. Gold leaf: possibly refers to the practice of putting gold leaf writing and designs on a superior car paint finish in California
  6. Hydro: refers to hydroponic growing systems which can greatly improve yields
  7. Sinsemilla: Spanish. Refers to weed bud without seeds, highly concentrated, strong weed.
  8. Kind bud: very strong weed. Originated in Hawaiian and Polynesian ‘kine’ meaning excellent weed.
  9. Primo: premium quality weed.
  10. Swag: poor quality weed.
  11. Mary Jane: any easy way to say it without mentioning anything which may be illegal. Often used in song lyrics, like Rick James’ song, “Mary Jane”.
  12. Homegrown: weed is grown indoors, possibly due to illegality.
  13. Skunk: strong-smelling, powerful weed
  14. Chronic: referring to the habit-forming aspect of weed, popularized by Dr. Dre’s rap album, ‘The Chronic’
  15. Indo: referring to being grown indoors, or to the Indian subcontinent where many varieties originate

Teen Weed Slang 2019

Loud: a high THC strain with a loud smell and stimulating effect.
Mid: medium quality weed, lower THC levels.
Kind bud: strong weed.
Indo: Grown indoors or an Indica strain popular on the West Coast of the US.
Chronic: powerful weed popularized by the rap album ‘The Chronic’.

Figure 4. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/cocaine-treatment/slang-names

Slang terms for cocaine

  • Snow
  • Rocks
  • rock candy
  • Powder
  • Lines
  • Dust
  • Coke
  • Candy
  • Bump
  • Blow
  • Base
  • Ball


Whatever you call it, marijuana is experiencing a resurgence of popularity and use in the United States in 2019. Many states are legalizing medical and recreational use. As weed becomes more legal, the need to create more names to confuse the police may decrease; however, an explosion of new strains will bring about new names instead.

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