High Femme: What We Talk About When We Talk About Weed

Calling all Homoganjas! Let’s talk about anything and everything Marijuana related, from legalization to pop culture to how to make your own bong using a box of Diva cups and a broken lamp.

Whether you’re a newbie who doesn’t know a blunt from a joint, or you’re planning your gay dream wedding to Mary Jane, this column is for you. Puff, Puff, Pass.

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Homoganjas, let’s talk about what we talk about when we talk about weed. Did I lose you already? Like many subcultures, the world of marijuana is replete with its own vocabulary. While smoke slang may come and go, we rarely take a look at the origins of the words we throw around the dispensary. So consider this a primer on the origins of our most basic weed words, or as I like to think of it, a stoned version of More Than Words.


The origins of the term marijuana are unclear and hotly debated. Often attributed to Mexican or South American Spanish, the OED also references the indigenous language Nahuatl, suggesting that the word may come from mallihuan, which means “prisoner.” Usage of the word dates back to 1894, where it was referred to as mariguan, marihuma and maraguango. Many consider this to be a mutated version of the Spanish word mejorana, meaning Marjoram, a common herb without psychotropic properties. The term Mary Jane stems from marijuana as well, as an English translation of the name Maria Juana. US government officials embraced the “Mexican” origin of the word in their attempts to dissuade the American public from partaking. But xenophobia was no match for the allure of the herb, and marijuana steadily rose in popularity.

Some scholars suggest that the word actually has roots reaching all the way to China, where the phrase hemp seed flowers translates into ma ren hua, which sounds familiar to our ear holes. A slang term for cannabis in Mexico is oregano chino aka Chinese oregano, which may also refer to the word’s Chinese roots.


The word bong comes from the Thai word baung, meaning a cylindrical wooden tube or pipe cut from bamboo. Different versions of bongs were used all over the world, from Africa to Laos to China.

Water pipes became especially popular in China during the Qing dynasty, and were considered a must-have by upper class society. Water pipes were often embellished with ornate carvings, gold mouth pieces, and decorative stones. Even the emperors and empresses were often buried with an assortment of water pipes, which is something to keep in mind the next time a friend makes fun of you for wanting to be buried with your vape pen.


“If you wanna go and get high with me/Smoke a L in the back of a Benz-y” – Ride With Me by Nelly

“Come on pass the dutch baby! Shake shake shake ya stuff, ladies!” – Pass That Dutch by Missy Elliot

We know blunts as large joints rolled with cigar paper, but the term blunt comes from Phillies Blunt brand cigars. Phillies used the term blunt to describe the rounded tip of the cigar, as opposed to the more commonly smoked ones with tapered tips. This type of cigar was (and is) a very cheap option, and the durability of the wrap made it easy to re-pack with weed.

But blunt isn’t the only weed slang that derives from cigars. The term El or L is taken from El Producto brand cigars, while the term dutch refers to the popular brand Dutch Masters.


Ask anyone about the origins of 420, and you’ll get a variety of different answers. Some people say it’s the police code for marijuana, while others are convinced it holds some greater meaning in numerology. The truth is that the term originated in San Rafael, California, from a group of high school students who were on a mission to find a rumored lost marijuana crop. It’s just like The Goonies, only with more drugs.

The group, known as the “Waldos”, never did find the legendary crop, but in the process they coined a now international term for marijuana, as well as an unofficial holiday that takes place every April 20th. Not too shabby for some high schoolers looking for lost weed.


Homoganjas, where would we be without this term? Aside from just homos, I mean. The word ganja comes from the Sanskrit word ganjika, which refers to the cannabis plant.

Ganja also has roots in Hindi, where it is known as ganjha. The word is often mistaken for being Jamaican in origin; when in fact, it was the East Indian laborers sent to work in the West Indies who popularized the term among the locals.

What about you, homoganjas? Got any favorite smoke slang? Still mystified by some verdant vocabulary?

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Chelsea Steiner was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, where she works as a screenwriter/blogger/sex educator. She's the writer/director of Thank You Come Again, a queer sex positive web series based on her experiences working the Pleasure Chest, which you can follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. She’s obsessed with dachshunds, Buffy, 90's dance parties, and roller derby. She loves the word "Jewess" and wishes more people used it to describe her. Follow her ramblings on Twitter and her cute puppy pics on Instagram.

Chelsea has written 46 articles for us.


    • Smokahontas eh? Should be a queer-strain that gives you different rainbow colours on every exhale…

      Can you smoke with all the colours of the wind?

      (I just wanted to make a Pocahontas joke you guys, I’m sorry)

  1. Super cool write up. I find I’m usually moat confused by lingo my dealer uses…Especially once my ex and I broke up and I started buying by myself it was like “What’s a teenth? What’s re-upping? DO I usually smoke highs or mids?” Now I’m a slang pro. Sort of

  2. Well there is the term hash, which comes from the Persian(& possibly Urdu/Pashtu/Hindi) word Hashish, which means grass(like on your lawn), but also used as a slang for cannabis.

    Also, bong(the product not the term) originated/evolved from hookah. And depending on who you ask hookah, originates, either from Egypt, Persia, or India. Though each one has their own distinct design and material.

  3. Chinese oregano – yes, this is probably discreet enough that I can text it to paranoid folks without it being *too* discreet.

    • There are strains that have the word cheese in it, like jack cheese, blue cheese, sour de cheese, and so forth.

  4. We like to use the term “tidings” (of comfort and joy) to refer to what we’re smoking or bringing over, if we we’re texting or talking in a questionable public place. Yet to find something more naturally discreet.

    • Tidings…I’m digging it.
      We usually say “painting” when in mixed company. It works so well!
      “I usually paint when I’m feeling really anxious.”
      “Are you going to bring the paint tonight? I’ll bring the canvases.”

      I just realized it doesn’t work for edibles. Asking someone to being paint for the brownies sounds a tad off.

  5. Whoa! How weird my friend and I were talking about weed related terms about a week ago when we went on a hike.

  6. what about hash, piece, bubbler, chillum, cashed, grinder, papers, dub, eighth, blaze, dabs, vape, nug, bleezy, spliff, edible?

    • cannabis is technically sativa, or classified as cannabis sativa, but can be further classified as cannabis Sativa, indica, Ruderalis and Afghanica.

      sativa originated mostly in Asia the Americas and Africa.

      Indica originated in Pakistan and India!

      hope this helps some

    • There are two commonly encountered species in the genus Cannabis: C. sativa and C. indica. ‘Sativa’ comes from a Latin word meaning ‘useful’ or ‘cultivated’ (which crops up in the scientific names for all kinds of plants—common garlic is Allium sativum) while ‘indica’ means ‘Indian’, presumably because that’s where it was discovered. Or maybe not; logic doesn’t always feature strongly in the coining of taxonomic names.

  7. Ah!

    I managed to stay away from the big bad drug until two summers ago. I basically got high because I was hungry (and already tipsy) and there were pot brownies in the room. Also, cute girl had taken some, and got all kinds of affectuous.

    Since then I’ve only done pot brownies. But a few months ago, I had some of said brownies, and also ate 6 cream doughnuts and a burger, annnd I ended up sick. Can’t stand ingesting pot since. Sends me straight to the loo.

    I wish I could try smoking it. Only, my super rare genetic autosomal recessive disease makes smoking a no no.

    I’ll have to stick to getting drunk.

    • you could smoke hash oil out of an e-cig which would just be water vapor, or just use a vaporizer which is the same thing but uses weed, or smoke dabs which is kinda the same, or drink THC soda, haha there are many many options. way better than drinking alcohol

    • There is also tinctures you can make, referred to as green dragon, which usually involves really strong alcohol(generally 151 proof or higher) and when done correctly one shot can get you what you desire, but if slowly played you can be the right combo of drunk and high if you so choose(great for camping on a colder night).

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