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How Marijuana Slang is Evolving

1 minute Read

What’s in a name? A (cannabis) flower by any other name would still smell as dank. In an era of weed legalization, marijuana law isn’t the only thing that’s changing. The words people use to talk about cannabis are also evolving.

Of course, what your parents may call grass and what you may call weed is all the same thing, despite the different ways generational, geographical, and legal shifts change how we think about and talk about cannabis. In fact, even legalese has changed: In California, for instance, voters legalized medical “marijuana,” in 1996, while today even politicians and state regulators call it cannabis.

As far as slang goes, in California, the most common term for cannabis is “dope,” while in Colorado and Washington it’s “ganja,” in Oregon it’s “bud,” in New York it’s “420,” in New Jersey it’s “blunt,” and in Arizona and Alabama it’s “Mary Jane.”

According to data pulled together by Project Know, slang also varied along gender and other demographic lines. Men are more likely to say “ganja,” while women are more likely to say “pot.” Meanwhile, millennials are most likely to say “420,” Generation Xers are most likely to say “dope,” and Baby Boomers are most likely to say “grass.”

Project Know also looked at factors like “self reported coolness” and college attendance. Those who considered themselves uncool most often call cannabis “grass,” while those who think they’re cool call it “ganja.” Moreover, college students most often reported calling it “420,” while non-college students are more likely to call it “herb.”

Most people (80 percent of survey respondents) said they learned drug slang through their friends, while 70 percent learned it online. Another 46 percent said they learned drug slang at school, 31 percent learned it while actually doing drugs, and 23 percent learned it from their families. Surprisingly, medi like movies and TV accounted for only 13.5 percent.

While all these terms refer to the same thing, the way you talk about cannabis could affect the way you conceive of the plant, and how it fits into the culture you belong to.

How Marijuana Slang is Evolving