Cannabis Slang Words & Where They Came From

Cannabis Slang Words & Where They Came From

The Joint CannabisJul 22, '21

Ever find yourself confused when you’re hanging out with friends, and someone suggests that you break out the “wacky tobaccy” or take a hit of the “giggle smoke”?

With each passing year, it seems like there are new slang words for cannabis. Some of them are pretty straightforward—there’s weed, pot, or Mary Jane. But others are a bit more obscure. Like, what on Earth is ganja? It makes you wonder how these terms originated. 

Before cannabis was legalized, slang words were discreet by design; that way, not everyone who overheard would know what you were referring to. Cannabis consumers developed a code to speak safely about their favourite plant. Post-legalization, slang words have stuck around; they’ve become part of the culture.

We’ve put together a brief overview of how cannabis slang words have evolved over the years:


The roots of this one can be traced back to the landscape where cannabis was grown. This strain was originally cultivated in the Hindu Kush mountain chain. These days, several strains have “kush” in their names, and the word is used to refer to cannabis in general.


The term “dope” was originally used to refer to an umbrella of drugs, including heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and opium. It’s derived from the word “opioid”. As we’ve come to understand cannabis better, we’ve learned that calling it a narcotic is a bit of a stretch. These days, it’s more common to hear “dope” describe something cool or desirable.


This term became popular from a misunderstanding. Snoop Dogg, the prolific rapper, was at a party when he overheard someone talking about hydroponic weed (a method of growing cannabis without soil). But what he thought he heard was “hydrochronic”. That’s where the infamous nickname stems from, and it’s been prevalent ever since.


It’s no secret that cannabis packs quite a strong smell. If you’ve ever carried some with you in a public place, you might have received a few looks from passersby. Some think that strong cannabis smells like skunk spray, hence the nickname. The musty smell that weed sometimes has can be described as dank. “Loud” refers to particularly potent cannabis; some believe that the stronger the smell, the stronger its effects will be. 


Despite how prevalent this number is in cannabis culture, there’s no clear consensus on where it came from. One theory is that it gained popularity in the 1970s. A group of high school students in California used to meet at 4:20 PM to consume cannabis together. “420” became code for meeting up to smoke—now, April 20th is a special celebratory day for cannabis lovers.


The origins of these terms are pretty obvious. Since cannabis comes from a plant, it resembles other types of greenery. Grinding up dried cannabis makes it look like other herbs, such as oregano or thyme. When people refer to various types of plants, keep your ears open—they might actually be referencing cannabis. 

Now that cannabis is legal, it’s less common to hear some of these obscure slang words. Cannabis has a fascinating history, and part of it is how the slang has evolved over the years. All this reading about Mary Jane might have you looking for a weed store in Winnipeg. Why not stop by The Joint? We’ve got an extensive collection of edibles, oils, and dried cannabis.