The changing state of pot slang in the US

The changing state of pot slang in the US

The Washington Post has an interesting story up about the changing state of slang for weed in the US. Originally, as an illicit drug, cannabis users had to use slang, to try and distract anyone listening or paying attention from what they were actually talking about. That's how customs like 4:20 came about, and also how words like dope, grass, reefer, or chronic entered the lexicon. Language is a living thing, however, and some of those phrases became more popular than others, with different levels of popularity in different places.

Some terms for weed have darker origins -- "marijuana" is famously a term that was applied to the drug with some racial overtones, when government agents in the 19th and 20th centuries tried to tie it to Hispanic users to play off of traditional American xenophobia. Some stores and users avoid the term "marijuana" completely, in favor of the more scientific and clinical "cannabis."

But the WaPo isn't even talking about that. The author of the piece is spotlighting a new wave of slang, and one that's specific to legal cannabis, of all things. "Wellness" is a new term that's popping up among legitimate businesses selling the drug, and there's a whole lot of terms around that. Care, pain management, medical alternative, and organics are all names and words that have been introduced to cannabis, usually by business owners trying to rebrand away from pot culture, and more towards the health features of the drug.

In general, as WaPo says, that's not an issue -- language changes all the time, and certainly it's probably better for these businesses to put "wellness center" on their signs rather than calling themselves "the doobie dojo" (though we would definitely stop there for sure). There is some confusion, however, around this new naming paradigm, which could lead to some problems. In the end, it make take a while for cannabis users to think about the drug differently. In the US, legalization is still happening as we speak, and in some states, it's still not legal to buy or even own cannabis. As that continues to change, we'll have to see just what kinds of terms arise and conquer when talking about the good old sticky icky icky.

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