By Johnny Mumbles
I learned a very specific pot vernacular while growing up in the DC metro area. First there is lunchin’, the verb conjugation of the phrase out to lunch. Second, we have Youngin’s, people you consider part of your community or of like mind. Third, we have Yangin’s. Yangin’s aren’t reading this article. Here is the math: everyone can be lunchin’ sometimes. Youngin’s can lunch and there can be lunchin’ Youngin’s. But Yangin’s are always lunchin’.
The first time I smoked pot I didn’t get high. Smoking some schwag with my buddies, out of torn up cardboard from a pizza box. From a fucking pizza box! I didn’t even get stoned. Or maybe I just never came down. We weren’t wondering whether it was Indica or Sativa, we couldn’t even comprehend what it would mean to be medical or recreational. We were just smoking some brown weed, lady all day. Straight lunchin’.
I have lunched with the best of them, from people who got way too high to those who couldn’t get high enough. Overdosing on weed may not kill you, but it will definitely make you rethink your life choices. There was the guy who came through the basement smoke out and ended up in the front yard just staring at a tree in the dark. Or when I got my buddy so high, he was certain he knew what everyone was going to say just before they said it. It’s all fun and games until someone turns green after an epic bong hit. Whether I catapulted you two minutes into the future or you lost two weeks to an endless high, I apologize. I wish I had taken the time to provide a proper introduction. For those of whom I opened the green pearly gates to the heavenly herb, you’re welcome. Either way, with so many people’s budding relationship with legal cannabis, I feel this is as good of a time as any to drop the knowledge. So here we go.
Cannabis is what you say when you want to be taken seriously. Weed is ‘The Weed’ because everything else is just a weed. Pot is useful because it’s easy to spell. Marijuana has journeyed through a colourful past all the way into law books. Schwag is lower potency, outdoor grown, compressed cannabis usually imported from tropical climes. Dank is a whole lot stronger and tenderly cared for throughout its life process. The chronic speaks for itself. Reefers is funny to say and can apply to both the plant and its rolled up form. Ganja feels mystical. Herb is descriptive. Bud is literal. Grass is practical. And dope sounds street. The list will never end—nor should it.
There are other terms that feel more like little cages growing up around legal use. In an age when sickness feels like a sin and medical history is the permanent record, getting a prescription for medical marijuana can be a weighted decision. On the other hand, I think we can do better than labelling legal cannabis recreational. Fishing is recreation, playing soccer is recreation, boating is recreation. Weed isn’t a hobby, it’s what you enjoy to recreate even better.
Let’s delve deeper. A joint is a joint, but so is a spliff, which may have tobacco. But it could also be a blunt if it is wrapped in a tobacco leaf. Either way, you need to pass that shit to the left. A doobie will always doobie doobie do. A pipe is anything that has three holes that won’t explode if you burn weed in it. If you remove the shotgun then it’s a chillum. If you add water, it’s a bong. If you take away fire then it’s a dry vape. Edibles go in one way, suppositories go in the other, and topicals can go everywhere else.
Whatever you call it, however you enjoy it, whether labelled medical or recreational, the experience should be positive. New users entering this arena are jettisoned directly into this maelstrom of designer cannabis, often left crawling on the floor when they are looking for a pleasant stroll. I understand this high potency marketplace—the cat is finally out of the bag, let’s see how high we can get it. One day, the mainstream may eventually realize that it’s not always about diving into the deep end of dankity dankness. At that moment, they will find me floating in waist deep water, smoking weed light, with floaties on and not a care in the world. I think the best part of legally accessible herb is knowing that this little toke isn’t going to catapult me to the moon. I have been to outer space, now I enjoy being down to earth.
If I’m just trying to catch a little buzz, am I still getting high? Most of the words for being under the influence feel unrefined and inaccurate. Being stoned has a couch lock connotation. Baked and faded have a dismissive vibe. Euphoric sounds so sophisticated. You can call me Blaze but you can’t call me blazed. Iry has a taint of appropriation. Zooted feels like an overstatement and no one should know that I get blasted. What should I call it when I’m just adding a little pep to my step or cultivating a bit of stillness in my chillness? To whatever degree I am affected, I don’t feel like I should have to hide it.
No matter how strong the strain is my eyes get red. I mean really red. So red that all my friends in high school carried Visine just in case their eyes looked half as red as mine. The shame of marijuana may be slowly wafting away as it enters the realm of acceptability, but it still isn’t polite. A world that treasures the intoxicating fermentation of a grape should celebrate a euphoric flower. Many people who could benefit from the effects of cannabis will never consider it because of its tarnished reputation as a controlled substance. Is drug just the past tense of drag? A pejorative term forever destined to capture all of the substances we want to look down on?
I’m not just a pothead playing dress-up in the kitchen cupboard. Where are the terms for faithful followers of this fantastic five-fingered frond? Where is the pompatus of weed? What words can we create to convey the splendour of the experience and the nobility in this sacred herb? Until we find the vernacular of the spectacular, we are stuck with the haters’ nomenclatures. I’m softer than a stoner, less logged in than a constant user, and more present than a space cadet. Am I an herbivore just looking for grass or a cannivore with a carnal craving for the chronic? I consider myself existing at a higher standard of herb enlightenment until I am forced to face the ugliness of my weed entitlement. Throughout my life, I have blasted all of these types in full stereo, even when I least suspected or intended.
The first time I bought legal cannabis, I was in Amsterdam on spring vacation during college. It blew my mind. I just sat there and smoked herb, waving off my travel companions as they went to experience the so-called culture. I was sitting in a coffee shop while my friends checked out the Albert Cuyp Market nearby. I had purchased the recommended house blend of every kind of weed they had and rolled a big fat joint and smoked it to the face, because why the hell not. I was 3508.26 miles from home, all alone and high as fuck. After I put my tobacco pouch full of weed away a second time, a man asked if I had stolen his herb. Upon further examination I realized I had indeed picked up his identical pouch of American Spirit tobacco and unintentionally placed it in my pocket. In my memory he was 7-feet tall, dressed in all black, with a bald shaved head, and dark sunglasses. I sheepishly returned his pouch as he entered my subconscious as the bogeyman of weed tourism, forever haunting my stereotype of being an ignorant American tourist visiting the Netherlands just to get stoned. I thought I was better than that.
Fifteen years later, my first medical dispensary visit in DC was all I could ask for and more. Opening the door, I was met with a blast of ganja’s greatness. I was a seasoned pothead looking for a path to wellness. But I had the fear—it was just after the grand mal seizures and getting too stoned was causing me anxiety. I had met the dementors of dank and I didn’t want to go back to Azkaban. Even after years of smoking, my first few visits were a series of trial and error. I can only imagine how overwhelming the process could be for a novice user. As a patient patient, with the help of tender bud tenders, I discovered low THC, high CBD cultivars like Lemon Meringue, Rosaberry and Kryptonite CBD. Finding the right strains is truly a journey of knowledge of self, but there are people who want to help.
Even in this medical setting, words constrain the conversation. I’m sorry but Indica, Hybrid and Sativa just aren’t doing enough work for me anymore. Nor is the range of bottled emotions from harmony to tranquillity to serenity. Right now, the best information seems to come from the identification and measurement of cannabinoids and terpenes. But this info requires complex testing, and chemists seem to be the only people who like chemistry. We need a way to understand our choices better than trendy names like Mango Tango and Tutti Frutti. There must be an accessible place between science and skunk.
Theoretically, in the medical card approval process, the prescribing physician can offer some insights about what to look for and where to go. Hopefully, at the very least, they are screening for any mental health issues that could be exacerbated by marijuana use. On the other side of the industry, when someone walks into a recreational pot establishment all they need is a legal ID showing their age. I feel like there should be some onboarding process to ensure a positive experience. I’m not proposing that we require people to get a recreational card to buy pot. However, a new user should understand the fine print before they get blasted to another dimension.
If weed is so recreational, why can’t I do it everywhere? If marijuana is so medical, why has the research been prohibited? What if I looked deeply into every joint I smoked, determining whether it was feeling one way or another? What sense does it make if its label changes just by crossing a state border? None of this mattered as I learned my THC ABC’s, stuck in the basement secretly smoking weed. Lessons I learned well, from burn holes in the carpet of my college dorm room, to etiquette in Amsterdam, to identifying amenable cultivars in a dispensary. Until this era of legality, I have been too paranoid to share my experience. Now I am trying to understand how to make this ancient herbal wisdom accessible to the recreational freshmen class. For me, purchasing and enjoying legal cannabis isn’t a new hobby; it's a reason to rejoice. So where is my ‘rejoicement’ card?
Listen on Spotify
We learn a lot about the culture from the music we listen to. The songs on this playlist have been instrumental in the herbal education of Johnny Mumbles. You may find some answers to questions that you forgot to ask along the way. Slang is a noun and a verb. 'Well all rite cha,' enjoy.
Listen to our custom Johnny Mumbles-curated "Slang Editorial Mix" on Spotify.
Johnny Mumbles is a lifelong cannabis connoisseur. After years of exploring America's marijuana meccas, he’s settled down as a card-carrying medical cannabis patient. An adult diagnosis of epilepsy inspired the exploration of the medical benefits of CBD along with his faithful compatriot, THC. Aside from travelling the path to enlightenment, he spends his time making hip hop cassette mixtapes, watching VHS movies and rattling away on a typewriter. His goal is to elevate the cannabis conversation by any means possible, one head at a time. The Tao te Ching says, “Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.” He knows just enough to not speak clearly.
Follow Johnny Mumbles on Instagram here: @johnny.mumbles
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