Marijuana terms

Different Terms Used For Marijuana


Marijuana is a predominantly illegal drug all over the world and only recently did some countries start legalizing it. Regardless, it is still the most widely used illegal drug in the United States. It is a widely known fact that marijuana is effective for treating various ailments and many people see it as harmless.

Because of its popularity, marijuana is known by different names in different places in the world. It is the only drug that has hundreds of street names and nicknames across different cultures and countries. Let’s check out some of the most popular terms below;

  1. Cannabis

This name is derived from the scientific name of the plant which belongs to the flowering plant family, Cannabaceae. The first usage of this word was in 1783, and the word was derived from the Greek word, “kannabis.” Jean-Baptise Lamarck was also the one who identified the plant with the names Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Cannabis sativa is grown in the western part of the world while Cannabis indica is grown in India. Another specie of the plant, Cannabis ruderalis was discovered by D.E. Janischewsky in 1924. Over time, as cannabis got more popular and widely used, there were racist accounts of its history and people believed these stories thereby making them stick to the use of cannabis instead of the more culturally controversial names.

  1. Ganja

This word is used more in Jamaica and associated with Rastafarianism but its true Origin is Sanskrit, and it comes from India. Ganja became a Jamaican thing during the time of intense human trafficking. At the time Britain outlawed slavery in Jamaica, rich land-owners ignored the ban and decided to bring in Indians into the country as indentured servants. Meanwhile, cannabis had existed for hundreds of years in India, and it is a sacred plant in the Hindu religion. For instance, Bhang, a drink considered to be Shiva’s (Hindu god) favorite drink is made from cannabis.

With the importation of these Indian servants, there was a mix of Jamaican and Indian culture and within a short period, “ganja” became a famous word all over the place especially amongst the low-privileged people.

The Hindu tradition had so much influence in Jamaica, and after a while, they started regarding ganja as a spiritual substance. It was not long that ganja became a part of Rastafarianism. The wide publicity that the religion enjoyed over the world can be credited to Bob Marley, the well-known Rastafarian and reggae singer.

  1. Hemp

According to Merriam Webster, Hemp as a word has its origins in the Old English Language written as hænep. Both words are from the Greek, kannabis, and hemp is cannabis but not the typical cannabis that everyone is familiar with. How do we mean?

Hemp is one of the variations of the Cannabis sativa plant that contains a low amount of THC, and its use is mainly industrial rather than recreational or for getting high. Of course, the word hemp could be used in place of cannabis, but it does not have to be the cannabis that can make you high. The THC content in hemp is so low that you can remain sober even if you smoke an entire field.

  1. Kush

This name has its origins from the landrace strain known as “Hindu Kush. Landrace strains date back to several years ago, and they are plants named after the Hindu Kush mountain range that stretches for 500 miles through Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The mountain range’s name has its origins from different places. One is from the Greek words, “Caucasus Indicas,” which means “Caucasus of the Indus River.” Another one is the Sanskrit “Hindu Kûh” which means “mountains of India” and the Persian which means “kills the Hindus” which refers to the fact that nobody can live on the mountain range because of the dangerous weather. Regardless of the origin of the name, “Kush” as a name has overridden the cannabis culture and it is used to refer to good weed.

  1. Marijuana

This is the most controversial among the different names you can call cannabis. It is also the name that those who are against cannabis call it. Before cannabis got prohibited, cannabis was a cash crop as it was cultivated mainly for industrial and medicinal purposes in the United States. Over time, by the twentieth century, the plant became widely used for narcotics, and this was the time that there was an influx of illegal Mexican immigrants into the United States because of the Mexican Revolution.

The Mexican culture supported the use of recreational cannabis and marijuana was the Mexican name which was in its vernacular. Then, Prohibitionist began to make the plant about Mexican for xenophobic and racism intents. Marijuana in the United States has its origins deeply entrenched in ignorance, racism, and xenophobia.

  1. Mary Jane

Nobody can point to the exact origins of the word “Mary Jane” and its relationship with cannabis. But anybody with half a brain would figure out that it could be the English translation of “Marijuana.” Mary Jane can also be translated into Maria Juana, and other variations of the name include MJ, Mary Warner, Mary and Johnny, and Mary Weaver.

  1. Pot

This word may have its origins from the Mexican-Spanish word, potiguaya. The word came up for the first time in 1938 when the prohibition laws were active in the United States. Potiguaya, gotten from the words, “potación de guaya,” is a drink mixed with cannabis.

  1. Reefer

The origins of the word, “Reefer” is not known but it could either be in reference to sailing as in reefing which means rolling the edge of a sail or a bad hair day where the hair is curled. Its relationship with cannabis is when someone is inebriated; their hair may be disheveled and scattered which is related to the effects of cannabis on people.

  1. Weed

This is the most obvious and accurate name. Weed is a plant that grows in a place that it isn’t wanted, and no matter what you do, it still grows. Cannabis is not exactly a weed, but with the clampdowns on it by the law, it has weed tendencies. Weed is somewhat a comical reference to an evil that you cannot get rid of even if you do not like it.