Cannabis and the Christmas Tree Emoji: A Brief (and Fraught) History

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If you’ve ever paid your dealer on Venmo, you’re probably familiar with this: ?

For every taboo subject, there’s a socially permissible emoji, and cannabis is no exception. Thanks to the fascinating evolution of the emoji language, Christmas trees, used for centuries as a symbol of the first Noel and yuletide cheer, are now being used as a symbol of marijuana by cannabis businesses and consumers alike.

But what is the source of this semiotic phenomena?

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It’s true that mixing Christmas and cannabis is generally a bad idea (smoke before Christmas meal and they’ll know what you’ve done, smoke after and the munchies will descend just as the leftovers are being handed away to guests – you can’t win.) But, just this once, it makes sense.

One of the many nicknames for cannabis is “tree” (think, “Just soaking up this breeze, smoking on some trees” from “I Get Lifted” by Snoop Dogg) and Christmas trees hold particular significance for cannabis-enthusiasts, as “Christmas tree weed” is an expression used to describe the good stuff – you know, the stuff that gets you the most lit.

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There are other emojis used to symbolize weed. The pineapple (?), for instance, looks like a bud, the wind emoji (?) is a fast and effective way to invite someone to smoke, and the broccoli (?) is, well, broccoli. Like seemingly everything in today’s world, there’s a lot of controversy about which is the “official” weed emoji.

But, if you need an emoji everyone will recognize, the Christmas tree emoji is always safe (until the tech gods bless us with a marijuana leaf emoji ?.)

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So, this season, light up some ? weed and sleep in heavenly peace finally knowing why you’ve been seeing evergreen trees all over the internet. And hey, if you’re feeling crafty, try making  your very own Christmas tree weed with this quick DIY:

Yeah, you’re welcome.

Elissa Esher is Assistant Editor at GreenState. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Guardian, Brooklyn Paper, Religion Unplugged, and Iridescent Women. Send inquiries and tips to