Part of the “fun” of talking with someone else about cannabis is all of the terminology associated with these products. You can easily mix slang with scientific or technical terms without anyone raising an eyebrow.
More than 1200 slang terms exist for weed, along with over 2300 individual strain names. When you visit marijuana stores to buy your product, you can expect to hear many familiar words and some new ones.
Below are some interesting examples, a little bit of history and other facts you can show off during your next dispensary visit.
Earliest Examples of Marijuana Names
Since 2700 BCE, the Chinese have recognized the healing powers of marijuana. Their first name from that time and predating written history is “ma.”
Before 400 CE, Greek, Arabic and Sanskrit societies recognized hemp and its favourable properties. Their words for marijuana include:
- Bhaṅgā – Sanskrit
- Gañjikā – Sanskrit
- Hursīnī – Sanskrit
- Kánnabis – Greek
- Kinnab or Quinnab – Arabic
From these ancient terms, you probably recognize the roots of today’s common descriptors for marijuana. These include ganja and cannabis.
Hindi people also call marijuana ganja, as do Jamaican Rastafarians. Today, ganja is the slang term for really potent weed.
In Hawaii, pakalolo describes weed. The Italians call it canapa and the Portuguese pango. Around the world, you can find thousands of options for talking about your marijuana.
4 Basic Weed Names in North America
In North America and other countries around the globe, there are standard terms that most people recognize. There are descriptions below:
Cannabis is the most widely accepted term for marijuana. You see this word used throughout marijuana stores and the products therein. It is actually the scientific name for the marijuana plant. Under the cannabis primary name are other plant strains, each with their own names.
For example, Cannabis indica is the type of marijuana that produces physical effects. These plants are part of the indica strain.
Sativa strains, called Cannabis sativa, produce heavily cerebral effects. Which strain you choose in your marijuana dispensary depends on whether you want to feel primarily mental or physical effects.
Cannabis ruderalis, on the other hand, is not as well known and is a low THC strain of marijuana.
Who does not love the easy-going term “weed?” Born of 1920s cannabis culture in America, this word is used to describe the marijuana plant, itself, or a marijuana cigarette.
Most people who call marijuana “pot” do so, not knowing the history of the word. Unlike the general assumption that it comes from weed being a potted plant, the term is actually of Spanish origins.
It is an abbreviated form of Spanish “potiguaya” or “potaguaya.” These are both alcoholic beverages steeped like tea with cannabis flowers.
It is easy to appreciate that the word marijuana comes from Mexico. It became widely used in North America during the post-World War I era when the government and medical organizations used anti-cannabis propaganda to spread fear about the drug.
Marijuana is actually a word first used by the U.S. government’s law enforcement agencies for its racist and anti-immigrant stance against Mexicans.
Because of the historical racism of marijuana as a term, more dispensaries, retailers, producers and distributors are breaking away from calling products by this name, choosing cannabis instead.
5 Unique Names for Cannabis Products
Knowing the basics of cannabis names, you can transition smoothly into the plant’s nicknames. Some of these are unique enough that you will want to remember them.
Anyone who calls cannabis products “grass” comes across as relaxed, “chill,” even. It is a term made popular in the 1960s and early 1970s hippie movement. The word is considered a subtle way of talking about marijuana, as if once slightly undercover.
Many people who smoke weed enjoy calling it “herb.” This term focuses on the unique attributes of the plant, as well as its distinct odour and flavour.
It also implies that marijuana can be used in a wide range of ways, such as smoking, cooking, infusing and juicing, just like other herbs.
“Bud” is used to describe weed based on the tight flower clusters the plant produces. The buds are where most of the plant’s cannabinoids exist.
As with the word bud, “nugs” describes the cannabis plant’s flowers. Because the flower buds appear dense and tightly clustered, they look like nuggets of green.
Skunk comes from the odour of cannabis. Each strain of the plant has its own fragrance, with most having a skunky edge.