Weed Slang and Strange Street Names for Cannabis

Lori Ann Reese

Posted by Lori Ann Reese on 08/23/2021 in Cannabis Laws

DEA Names for Cannabis

When we interviewed “The Bellamy Brothers” on their collaboration with MSO dispensary Trulieve, we learned a new code word for a joint.  In fact, it was featured in several of their songs, where they referred to a ‘torpedo.’   What better way to describe a hand-rolled joint, right?   But how many people listened to songs by “The Bellamy Brothers” and had no clue they were talking about weed?

Because of the “War Against Drugs,” cannabis has also fought a war against prejudice.  How were you judged back in the seventies if you smoked weed? Frankly, few people would have cared.  But over the decades, some stereotypes emerged in tandem with stricter penalties for possession.  And cannabis culture went “undercover” for safety.

From this need to be covert and avoid legal problems, a code developed.  Ask your parents what “420” means, and they may have a hint it’s related to weed. Or they may have no clue.  But those of us immersed in cannabis culture celebrate it like it’s a holy day.  And it represents so much more than just smoking weed.  It’s appreciation and a symbol of freedom of choice.

Why did we have to come up with so many euphemisms and code names for cannabis over the nine decades of prohibition?  Where did some of the most hilarious names for weed come from anyhow?  Weed by any other name would still smell dank, right? But some of the names for pot are downright strange.

The DEA Director of Drug Slang Words for Weed

You may have been able to fool your parents by using different code words for cannabis.  But when it comes to nicknames for drugs, the DEA has an honorary Ph.D.  They maintain something of a bible of drug names that is available to all authorities nationwide.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) constantly updates a list of alternative names for drugs.  All recreational drugs are not just cannabis. Foiled!  The DEA Intelligence report “Drug Slang Code Words” is unclassified.  You can flip through pages of every single nickname for each controlled substance.

Interestingly, out of all the controlled substances from ketamine to meth and MDMA, cannabis has the most extended list of alternative names.  You are probably familiar with the basics like Flower, Mary Jane, Ganja, Fattie, Nug, and Devil’s Lettuce.  Chances are you’ve heard your Great Uncle Charlie call it “Wacky Tobacky!”

We went looking for a few of the weirdest names for weed on the DEA’s slang list and tried to figure out where some of those names came from.

1. Alice B Toklas

There is no evidence that Alice B. Toklas ever smoked weed.  Or advocated for it.  All we have is a cookbook she wrote after the death of her long-time companion, Gertrude Stein.   Toklas met Stein after she moved following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to Paris. 

Both Toklas and Stein had parties in Paris, with writers like Ernest Hemingway, Paul Bowles, Thornton Wilder, and artists like Picasso and Matisse.  Toklas was an editor, cook, secretary, and companion to Stein.  The “Alice B. Toklas Cookbook” contained a great recipe for cannabis-infused brownies. 


2. Smoochy Woochy Poochy

This one is a bit of a toss-up when it comes to origin.  A song called “Smoochy Woochy Poochy” by Vector Hoffman talks about rolling some fatties and wake and bake.  The song was released in 2018.  Jay and Silent Bob Reboot hit the screens in 2019.  And if you remember, Jay loved to pucker up and lovingly call his stash “Snoochie Boochies.”   

3. Yellow Submarine

This one isn’t much of a Scooby-Doo mystery.  Yellow Submarine is a strain also known as Larry OG Kush or Lemon Larry.  It is an Indica dominant strain known for sparking creativity before sinking into deep relaxation.  Kind of like the way a submarine goes deep, you might find yourself sinking into your couch.   But some people say Yellow Submarine is splendid for aches and pains.

But now we are kind of wondering about the old Beatles song. You may have already figured that one out, but when you listen to the lyrics, it more than fits.   


4. Bobo Bush

One of the street names for cocaine is Bobo.  But cannabis is also called Bobo Bush.  Why?  We have no idea.  But Rastafarian rapper Young Shanty has a song called “Bobo Bush.”  He was also one of the judges of the 2020 High Times Cannabis Cup.


5. Reefer

Everyone has heard cannabis called reefer. But do you know where the term actually comes from? It’s derived from a Spanish word “Grifo.” It’s Spanish slang to describe someone who is under the influence of marijuana.  Direct translation means someone who has tangled or out-of-control hair or appears disheveled.  Over time, the word became written as “Greefo” and then “Reefer.”

Why Are There So Many Names for Weed?

Even as medical and recreational use of cannabis has become legalized in most American states, there is still a fear for cannabis users.  Are you carrying too much?  Are you going to be stopped and searched? Will they seize your container, grinder, or paraphernalia?   Will a police officer follow you home after you buy an excellent new bong at your local head shop?

When you don’t want to get caught, you come up with different names for pot.  It makes sense.  But over the decades, there have been some exciting anagrams for weed.   Not that it helps because apparently, the DEA is all over every possible name ever created for cannabis.

Most of the slang terms for weed indicate the quality or experience of smoking a particular strain.  Or different strains that produce the same psychoactive or physiological effects. For example, a name with airplane in it indicates it will get you high.  Or a name with the word “giggles” is a warning that you are going to end up laughing when you get to the pinnacle of your high with giggle-inducing cannabis.

Other code words give you an indication of what the strain may offer as an experience.  If you see the word Houdini, you can anticipate losing touch with reality for a while.  And if you are someone who struggles with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or anxiety, that might be exactly what you need to take a break from it.

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