In one of those moments of extreme clarity you have when mildly stoned and everything makes perfect sense, so you’re in the mood to ask deeply philosophical questions, have you ever wondered where we get all those different names for cannabis? Have you even wondered why it is called cannabis? Well for those of you who are as interested in what we call this drug as you are enjoying the effects of it, here’s some utterly useful information you can use to bore the shit out of someone next time you’re both stoned
Cannabis – the original name for the drug, dates back to the times of ancient Greece and the word ‘kannabis (κάνναβις)’ and then the Latin ‘cannabis’. This is the name that was given to the hemp plant and which has a historical background for both its medicinal properties as well as its soporific effect. It is well documented that hemp was burned inside bath houses in the times of ancient Greece.
Marijuana – the origins of this word are Mexican Spanish. Originally the word was used as a name for other plants by the Mexicans, but on their influx into America between 1910 and 1920 after the Mexican Revolution, they introduced the use of cannabis as a recreational drug. Until then, cannabis had been predominantly used for medicinal purposes in the States. In what is seen as a blatantly racist move and with this ‘new’ use of cannabis meeting with predominant disapproval, the drug was was given the name marijuana in order for it to have a greater association with Mexicans, further enhancing its negative image. Even today Americans use the word marijuana more than cannabis.
Ganja – there is a common misconception the word ganja comes from Rastafarian. In fact, the word comes from ancient Sanskrit and is the Indian word given to a particularly strong strain of cannabis sativa
Pot – this is a word that entered the lexicon of the cannabis user in the 1970s but has nothing to do with pots or cooking. The word is an abbreviation of the Portuguese word ‘potiguaya’, a form of mulled wine that has had marijuana buds steeped in it. We are slightly reluctant to have revealed this too you as we now imagine Christmas could now be a very different occasion in many a household, with more than one or two grandparents stoned unknowingly stoned out of their mind as they sip innocently on a glass of ‘mulled wine’.
Weed – one of the newest terms used for cannabis, this word has been given to cannabis owing to the plants ability to grow in even the most hostile of environments – by that we mean poor soil, not Beirut or Syria!
Skunk – first called this in America in deference to its notoriously smelly namesake and the fact that both have an undeniably recognisable smell. However, skunk in the UK has now been adopted for that strain of cannabis which is particularly high in THC levels.
Grass – a term often associated with the ‘60s and ‘70s when cannabis was not of the same quality as it is today and more resembled lawn clippings. There is also an association with Hindu culture as it was referred to as ‘sacred grass’ in the text Atharvaveda.
Dope – while once a common name for cannabis, the word is rarely used today, instead being more greatly associated with heroin. However, the word is also used as a catchall for a collection of today’s drugs including cannabis, crystal meth, opium and cocaine.
Hashish, or hash – this word is more normally associated with cannabis resin and owes its derivation to an Arabic word for dry weed or grass.
So, have you got any more-local names for cannabis that might not be widely used throughout the country? If so, let us know over on our Facebook page
A politician’s answer to this question would be “Yes and no” or “It depends what you mean by ‘cannabis’”. However, we are not politicians, so we’ll try to make things a little clearer.
Not all cannabis is the same, but it is all derived from one of three species of the plant – cannabis sativa, cannabis indica and cannabis ruderalis. These three strains are subspecies of the genus cannabis sativa, which is native to the Indian sub-continent and Central Asia.
Now, here’s where it gets a little more complicated. Most of the cannabis that is smoked comes from hybrid plants created from both cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. The main reason for the hybridisation of the plant is because the principal effect of smoking cannabis sativa is euphoria, while that of cannabis indica is relaxing. You can get pure indica, which is often taken as an evening or nighttime smoke, while the uplifting and energising properties of sativa are more conducive to daytime consumption.
Today’s hybrid cannabis plants are not simply a combination of these two plants. They can be several strains removed and most of them have brilliant names. We’ve often thought about those people who work for companies where names are so critical, such as car manufacturers. Imagine spending day after day trying to come up with a new name for what is, essentially, just another car. You’re a bit restricted in what you can use, though many of today’s manufacturers seem to now look beyond the lexicon of real words, or simply give up trying. Let’s face it, the Dacia Sandero doesn’t have the most alluring of names, and at least Mercedes Benz were sensible enough to throw in the towel years ago and now stick to SL or SLK with a few numbers before it.
You want a decent job naming something, then if such a place existed, a cannabis factory would be the perfect place. Here are five examples of probably cannabis-induced creative genius:
Of course, these are just a few names, and we’re pretty confident you’ll have a few more you can think of. Why not post them on our Facebook page and see how many recognise the names or have special memories of any of them.