Weed terms are very much like code. They were a way to talk openly about something that, for the longest time, was illegal. So cannabis slang was, essentially, born from necessity. Cannabis enthusiasts had to have a way to communicate without family members, police officers and the general public becoming wise. This also explains why there are so many weed terms: the slang had to constantly evolve as those who tried to curtail cannabis use figured out the lingo. This is one explanation for the myriad words we use to stay under the radar when talking about cannabis. Consumers are constantly coming up with new ways to talk about weed, how to consume their weed, and all the different types of marijuana out there. This includes references to how weed is measured, cultural and consumption slang, as well as concentrate-specific terms and phrases. We’ve broken down some of the most common cannabis slang to help you get your vocabulary a little higher.
SLANG FOR WEED (THE PLANT ITSELF):
Weed – “Weed” grew in popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s. And, again, little is known as to why this became a slang reference to cannabis. As it is with a lot of these terms, it’s easy to speculate as to their origin. A weed is basically an invasive plant that grows in the wild under often harsh conditions. Although not technically a weed by scientific terms, cannabis is hearty like a weed and does grow all over the world. In addition, it was something that was “unwanted” or “invasive” according to the parents and the authorities of the day.
Nug – The slang term for a chunk of the bud material of high-quality cannabis. It’s a shortened form of “nuggets,” and refers to the way pieces of bud look once they have been removed from the plant, dried and cured.
Bud – Like nug, the term finds its origins in the description of a specific part of the plant.
Dank – While commonly used to describe wet, moist and unpleasant areas, it is also used to refer to premium cannabis. Similar to skunky smells being unpleasant to many but desirable in cannabis aromas, a “dank” quality to your cannabis is a good thing. In more recent times, dank has even been used as a general positive descriptor, so it’s not uncommon to hear younger people referring to memes or delicious foods as being “dank.”
Reefer – While the exact etymology is uncertain, one potential origin is the Spanish word “grifa,” a term for cannabis. The word was popularized as slang by the film Reefer Madness (1936), an early anti-cannabis propaganda film that has gained cult status for its, frankly, ridiculous plot.
Herb – Ground cannabis. It’s not surprising to learn that, when ground or shredded, cannabis flower can look like any other fresh herb, like basil or oregano. In fact, cannabis is considered an herbal remedy, since it’s a naturally occurring plant that has many nutritional and medicinal properties! Also, cannabis flower can be used as a garnish in weed-infused dishes, much like other culinary herbs.
Chronic – While it is the name of a specific hybrid strain, stoners use it as a slang term for exceptionally strong cannabis. The definition even differed depending on your location: East Coast dwellers used “chronic” to refer to cannabis laced with cocaine, while the West Coast used it to describe high-quality weed. The ‘90s West Coast rap scene cemented the latter meaning as definitive with Dr. Dre’s beloved triple platinum album The Chronic and sextuple platinum Chronic 2001.
Marijuana – Judged solely by its universal name recognition, this slang term for cannabis is something closer to an official term. But the history of the word is more complicated and problematic, and a closer look makes it clear why so many people prefer the term “cannabis.” There is a concerted effort to rebrand the plant as “cannabis” with the wider public, even if there is no evidence that the public distinguishes between the two terms. Though the origins of “marijuana” are unclear, it is believed to have caught on during the Reefer Madness days early in the criminalization of cannabis, as a way of making it sound like a nefarious narcotic popular with spanish-speaking migrant workers and illegal immigrants. It was also a way to distinguish between the plant cannabis and its intoxicating flowers. The push to replace “marijuana” with “cannabis” is a major cause for legalization supporters and the cannabis industry, and a step in the eradication of the stigma surrounding the plant.
Ganja – The oldest English-language slang term for cannabis, dating from before 1700; it’s derived from the Sanskrit word for cannabis, gañjā. Probably the most common nickname for weed in Jamaica, it gained traction in the United States after Peter Tosh (formerly of The Wailers) used it in his 1975 song Legalize It.
Flower – Refers to cannabis in its cured plant form, i.e. as opposed to an extract or an edible.
SLANG FOR WEED MEASUREMENTS
Sack – 20-sack, 40-sack, dubsack, generally anything “-sack” is a reference to the size or amount of cash spent on your bag of buds. In the old days, a 20-sack usually meant a gram.
Gram – (Also known as a ‘Dub’ or a 20-sack). Grams may not be the official unit for weight in the U.S., but when it comes to cannabis (and drugs in general), the metric system rules. Generally, the smallest amount of cannabis that you can purchase (some dealers and shops will sell pre-rolled joints or 10-sacks/half grams if you’re lucky).
Half-Eighth – (Also known as a ‘Teenth’). The step up from a gram, a half eight is generally 1.7grams of sticky icky. The term comes from the bag being half the size of an eighth.
Eighth – An eighth of cannabis is 3.5 grams, or approximately 1/8 of an ounce. The most common “small” increment for cannabis; think of it like a six pack compared to a 30-rack.
Quarter – (Also known as a quad): 7 grams or, you guessed it, a quarter of an ounce of cannabis.
Half – 14 grams, or a half ounce, of cannabis.
Zip – A zip is an ounce, often referred to as a single unit if discussing larger amounts. The term comes from the original baggies of choice, Ziploc. Your neighborhood dealer would fill up a Ziploc with an ounce of cannabis and hand you that “zip”.
SLANG FOR WEED CULTURE
Hit – Taking a “hit” means to inhale or otherwise consume cannabis. One puff on a vape pen, one inhale out of a bong, or one drag off of a joint are all considered “hits”.
Session or Sesh – To get together and consume cannabis for a given period of time.
Puff Puff Pass – This is part of standard cannabis etiquette. The first rule of the smoke circle is to always “puff puff pass”. This means you never take more than two puffs or hits from the joint or blunt before you pass it.
Throw 5 On It – Often used to say that you’re down to share the cost of what’s being smoked (or consumed, food, alcohol, etc.). The term comes from blunts being commonly rolled with a gram of weed and a gram of weed commonly costing $20. For four people to split the cost of the blunt, each person would throw down $5.
Wood/Dutch/Swisher – Slang for common blunt wraps. Wood is a Backwood, Dutch is a Dutch Master (also known as a Dutchie), and Swishers are common cigarillos found at most gas stations.
420 – When California teens in the 1970s needed a covert way of discussing their after-school plans, they used their meeting place and time as shorthand to avoid suspicion. Eventually, they shortened the phrase to just the time they would often meet after track practice, 4:20 pm. Soon after that, they used the number 420 as code for getting high. And as you know, to this day, 420 has a major place in cannabis culture. While it’s not much of a code word anymore, it’s a quick way to get your point across. April 20th is now an unofficial holiday for most users, and chances are if you’re smoking with a group of buddies around 4:20 pm, one of them will point out the clock when it rolls around. “It’s always 420 somewhere!”
710 – While 420 refers to all things cannabis, 710 (or July 10th) refers specifically to all things related to oil and concentrates, including wax, shatter, budder, and resin. If you flip 710 upsides down, you’ll note that it looks like the word OIL, thus the reason for this specific date. It may not be as widespread as 420, but you’ll often find great deals on dab tools, oils, and concentrates at your local dispensaries on this day. Referring to yourself as 710-friendly also is an easy way to let people know you’re comfortable with these types of products.
Safety Meeting – Old school weed slang for a quick smoke break, often used during work to subtly ask coworkers if they were interested in lighting up quick. Used casually to refer to an opportunity to smoke, usually in between tasks or obligations.
Hot Box – Hot boxing is the act of smoking cannabis in a small, enclosed space. This fills the space with smoke, resulting (in theory) in each breath getting you a little higher. Popular hot box locations include cars or bathrooms, but more ambitious smokers may aim to hotbox larger rooms.
SLANG FOR WEED PARAPHERNALIA / CONSUMPTION DEVICES
Blunt – Usually a tobacco-wrapped, rolled cannabis smokable. Generally contains at least one gram of cannabis.
Joint – Usually a paper or hemp-wrapped, rolled cannabis smokable, often with a filter or “crutch”; Similar to a hand-rolled cigarette and containing 1/4 gram or more of cannabis.
Spliff – A joint or blunt that is rolled with a mixture of cannabis and tobacco, likely hollowed out of a cigarette. There are also herbal spliffs available containing other plants and herbs
Vape – A handheld (or tabletop) device that vaporizes the cannabinoids in your products rather than combusting them, allowing consumers to enjoy the benefits and flavor of their product without the irritants associated with smoking and inhaling combusted ash.
Bong – A tube-shaped water filtration pipe that allows the consumer to take large hits of cannabis with minimal smoke wasted.
Bowl – (Also known as a spoon). Usually a spoon-shaped hand pipe that features an top-facing bowl-shaped area for you to put ground up cannabis and a “carb” hole on one of the sides that allows you to clear the smoke from inside the pipe. Glassware such as a bong or bowl makes an excellent weed gift. Also known as a “piece”, some people get so attached to their glassware that they’ll give it a name.
Chillum – A carb-less straight hand pipe, usually big enough for a few hits and great for small groups or personal sessions. Originally designed to be hit by cupping your hands around the piece rather than placing your mouth on it.
Bat – (Also known as a ‘one-hitter’). A small pipe, often designed to look like a cigarette that is kept in a Dugout (hollow wooden case for packing cannabis) and holds 1-2 hits of cannabis. Must be reloaded each time.
Rig – A consumption device that has been adapted for use with concentrated cannabis options (see “dabs” below). These pieces feature a nail instead of a bowl for you to place your dabs on instead of loading your flower into.
Torch – A blowtorch or heat gun that is used to bring quartz, titanium and glass nails up to temperature to vaporize concentrates.
Nail – The skillet-shaped bowl replacement on rigs that allows you to vaporize your concentrated cannabinoids. The dish is heated and then concentrates are placed onto the hot surface to release vapors containing various cannabinoids.
SLANG FOR WEED EXTRACTS AND CONCENTRATES
Dabs – Concentrated versions of cannabis compounds that are extracted from the raw plant. Plenty of new terms and slang for weed have been created out of this specific type of cannabis.
Solvents – A solvent is any chemical used to dissolve a solid, liquid, or gas into a solution. In cannabis, a wide variety of solutions can be used to produce concentrates of varying potencies, terpene profiles, and textures. Some of the most popular solvents include butane, alcohol, and dry ice (or liquid CO2).
Live Resin – The form of cannabis concentrates originally pioneered by Kind Bill and Giddyup in Colorado. Live resin is made by harvesting cannabis plants before flowering is complete, and then freezing the plant material rather than allowing it to finish its cycle of blooming, drying and curing. This process produces concentrates with much higher terpene contents and are often sold as Live Diamonds, Live Sauce, Live Wax, Live Badder, Live Sugar, and “full spectrum” extracts.
Distillates/Isolates – Extracts that have been distilled down to solution containing only a handful of desired cannabinoids. Isolates are often liquids and powders that contain only one cannabinoid.
Cured Concentrates – Extracts made from plants that grew through their full growth cycle and were then cured and dried before being run through an extraction machine. This process often results in concentrates in consistencies such as Sugar, Batter, Budder, Shatter, and Wax.
Solventless – Solventless concentrates rely solely on heat, pressure, water and ice to extract cannabinoids from the plant, resulting in products such as Ice Oil, Rosin, SHO, SFSE, SHT, and Ice Sauce.
Globs – Large dabs, often greater than 0.25g in size (the standard dab size is 0.01-0.1g at a time).
Whatever you call it, the culture that has grown around the cannabis community continues to develop and evolve with new trends, technologies, nomenclatures, and neologisms. Feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the different slang for weed? Don’t worry, everyone who consumes cannabis was in your shoes at one point. Just take it slow, take a hit, and see where the session takes you.