Weed is a versatile plant. To some, it’s a lifestyle; to others, it’s little more than something you might see on a market-stall phone case. Your 15-year-old brother is smoking it behind a supermarket; your dad’s at it every other Thursday when he sneaks off to his friend Geoff’s for "Neil Young Night"; your mom just started using hemp oil for her psoriasis. It is a drug that means many things to many people.
It’s probably this malleability that accounts for how many words we have for weed. "Zoots," "grade," "dope," "grass"—it is through these words that we communicate, subtly or otherwise, who we are and what weed means to us. So ahead of 4/20, for VICE’s Weed Week, let’s consider: What Your Word for Weed Says About You.
This is the word "weed." As words for weed go, it says very little about you.
Simple pleasures, friend—just a few beers, a frozen pizza, and a spliff. Forget the world for a while—Trump, Brexit, and all those banker bastards frittering away the world’s wealth. Time to chill out, stick on some Gorillaz, and blow your troubles away on a cloud of the good stuff. Isn’t John Oliver sick?
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Ganja is the first entry in a series we are going to call: Words for Weed Used By People Who Never Smoke Weed. Imagine this as a sub-article within the article, dedicated to the folks who experience profound social anxiety and existential dread at the mention or scent of weed and channel this fear into myriad different terms.
"Ganja," taken from the Sanskrit word for "hemp," is now the reserve of nervous high school students at house parties who are attempting to distract from how little they want to smoke the badly rolled joint they’ve just been passed.
Great word. Bifta makes a joint sound like you’re being offered an extravagant night out rather than an hour spent watching the Vampire Diaries while you wait for American Dad to come on.
You are an aunt with jingly-jangly bracelets. You are sitting crossed-legged in the cradle of a round, retro dining chair, your rings clinking against the side of a mug of chai tea, with a cluster of wind chimes twinkling above the patio. Your new boyfriend is walking around without a shirt. He looks like Harvey Mandel, and he’s got a tattoo of a pair of antlers spread across the small of his back. You think it’s great so many kids are finally getting excited about politics. You have a modest amount of Mary Jane in the jewelry box on your dressing table.
Photo by Jake Lewis
You’re a firm believer in positive vibes, something you make mighty clear in your play-by-play, life-giving Facebook updates. Your ideal Sunday is a day spent crate-digging in record shops or maybe lounging around your girl’s place, playing her something on the guitar. When it’s sunny, you and some of the guys love to blow off work for the day, sling a few bottles of premium OJ in a backpack, and head out to the lake. After a few hours swimming and shooting the breeze, you will notice the wind begin to slow a little, and as the sun begins to set, it’s time to get out the sweet greenery you’ve been hiding in your jacket pocket. I’m talking about the reefer, my dude; breathe it in, life’s short.
Time for number two in our series: Words for Weed Used by People Who Never Smoke Weed.
A jokey name you use sometimes just to show how at ease you are with the ‘erb. You love it. The devil’s lettuce, Satan’s watercress, Lucifer’s rocket, the au naturel, the shrub, the moss, Yoda’s hand, the gardener’s beard, crazy kale, Marley’s medicine, God’s lawn, the kiwi feather, kush, kushti, Jared Kushner, pistachio fluff, mumble weed, Betty’s hot pot, the toxic mothball, ledge hedge, dude food, chill twill, Shrek’s earwax candle, Buddy Jolly, and Grinch pubes.
A familiar but not obsessive user, you keep your stash in a jam jar under your bed, and your sock drawer is only 30 percent half-used rolling papers. When around new people, you thoughtfully refer to smoking weed as "shmoking," just to take the edge off.
Photo by Jake Lewis
You’re not a conspiracy theorist; you are a conspiracy realist.
Your head feels like a plastic box. The plastic box contains many round balls. The round balls are softly bouncing from side to side. Thoughts are present fleetingly, but like bubbles they pop and disappear before you can fully recognize them. Your mouth is slapping open and shut like a pair of castanets. Your eyes are like veiny segments of blood orange held up to the light. People are talking, but it sounds like plaster. Fuck, this isn’t fun. No, it is. No, it isn’t. No, it’s fine. No, it isn’t. It isn’t. It isn’t. It isn’t. It isn’t. Stand up, face the wall, try to yawn. It isn’t. Spread your fingers out in a big fan and then clench them up into a fist. This isn’t fun. Why did you put yourself here. Is anyone looking at you? He is. Smile at him. Raise your eyebrows. You’re drowning here. Drowning in dark-green pond water. Tendrils and lily pads are pulling you down. Down, down, down, down, down.
You take your weed seriously, and, no, you’re not sharing.
Photo by Jake Lewis
The final installment in our much lauded Words for Weed Used by People Who Never Smoke Weed.
"Silly cigarette" is the word for young, trendy millennial-somethings whose idea of drug taking is less about transcendence and more about enhancing the speed with which they can talk about Kendall Jenner. "Silly cigarette" is the phrase they used to condescendingly refer to the activity of people in the other room at the party, all of whom they consider boring, just before they do their next huge line of coke.
You are Matt Smith, Kate Moss, Scott Disick, Rihanna, Lamar Odom, Tom Felton, Miley Cyrus, Conor McGregor, Louis Tomlinson, Freddie Flintoff, Matt LeBlanc, or Justin Bieber, and that strange-looking cigarette of yours just made a tabloid go extremely thinking-face emoji.
Great night out at the pub quiz with your dad, Barry, who was a great sport. He was more than happy to buy us beers all evening, while designating himself the sober driver, and I particularly enjoyed his stories. He didn’t even seem to mind a couple of dudes in the parking lot having a puff on some wacky baccy. "We’re all putting trash into our bodies somehow," he said, as he unlocked the Passat. Lovely man.
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