From Muggles to Rainy Day Woman, This is the Weirdest Cannabis Slang From 1920 to 1975
Most cannabis enthusiasts will say a bud by any other name will smell as sweet. But what if its name is Nixon?
Weed has a lot of nicknames. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of cannabis slang (yes, that’s a thing,) there are currently over 400 synonyms for marijuana in the English language – and cannabis experts say that list should be twice as long.
But language changes over time. We no longer call tea “noodle juice,” or say we’re “zozzled” when we’re very drunk (much as we may want to.)
So, we asked the question: What cannabis slang has been lost to bygone eras?
Turns out, your grandparents might have been more creative than you when it comes to naming reefer. We pulled some we thought were simply the bee’s knees.
Contrary to the modern association, this word had nothing to do with non-magical beings in the ‘20’s. Instead, it was a nickname for marijuana cigarettes—one most commonly used by jazz musicians. Lifelong cannabis-enthusiast Louis Armstrong even produced a recording called Muggles, which some suspect he played high. We certainly hope he did.
No one really knows where the nickname came from, but historian Michael Aldrich believes it may have derived from the word “smuggle.”
2. Mary Warner
This relatively normal name was used in the ‘30’s as a way to say “marijuana” without really saying it. It sounds weird to us now, but in the cadence of the day, “Mary Warner” probably sounded a lot more like “marijuana” than it would today.
You may have already guessed it, but Mary Warner was the Mary who inspired Mary Jane, as well as a long line of other Mary-related nicknames for weed and the all-encompassing term “Aunt Mary.”
It shouldn’t be hard to figure out why this was slang for cannabis. One of many hilarious terms listed in a 1943 TIME Magazine article outlining popular terminology for marijuana, this antiquated nickname references the giggly high many experience on sativa, or similarly energizing strains. Other nicknames mentioned in the article were goof-butts, love weed, and joy-smokes.
We’d like to see Snoop Dogg use one of these in his next hit.
4. Alice B. Toklas Brownies
Another woman with a dope name is Alice B. Toklas, San Francisco-born writer and partner to Gertrude Stein. After bravely including a hash brownie recipe in her now-famous cookbook, this O.G. canna-chef quickly became a synonym for edibles in the ‘50’s.
5. Rainy Day Woman
Yes, like the Bob Dylan song. Though Dylan has been mysterious in regards to what this song actually means, its release at the rise of cannabis culture in 1966 and its line “Everybody must get stoned” made it an instant pot anthem. By the end of the same year, TIME published an article confirming the Rainy Day Woman was being used as slang for a joint.
In reference to the song’s popularity among cannabis users, Dylan told his audience at Royal Albert Hall, “It’s not a ‘drug song.’ It’s just vulgar.” Still, if you multiply the numbers in the song’s full title (Rainy Day Woman #12 and 35) you get 420, so you tell us.
When the British sang Yankee Doodle to mock the revolutionaries in the 1770’s, the American minute-men adopted it as their fight song. In the 1970’s, when Nixon waged the war on drugs, cannabis-enthusiasts adopted his name as slang for weed – low-quality, nasty weed, of course.
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 email@example.com.