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How can cannabis have so many health benefits but be known as the devil's lettuce? Find out where the thousands of nicknames for weed came from!

Devil’s lettuce: Where did all these unusual names for cannabis come from?

Anybody who took a quick glance at cannabis would have no problem figuring out why it’s called lettuce. The nickname “Devil”, on the other hand, is a bit baffling. 

Cannabis has been shown to alleviate pain, improve your lung capacity, treat depression, fight cancer, regulate seizures, mend bones, and more. It’s even showing promising treatment for autism. So, why is it the “Devil’s Lettuce”? Does it come from Satan, himself? Perhaps, controlling evil gets exhausting and he needs some time to relax!

As we know, cannabis wasn’t always legal and it still isn’t in some places. Most of its nicknames came about because it was necessary to keep its possession, selling and consumption a secret. But then, you have those nicknames like “The Devil’s Lettuce” which were used as propaganda spectacles. Many marketers wanted people to think of it as dangerous. 

Today, we know better but cannabis is still no stranger to nicknames. Let’s explore a few!


The word “marijuana” arrived in the Americas in 1874. The Spaniards brought us this name when they were bringing cannabis to Mexico. They were using it as industrial hemp. Variants of the name included “marihuana” and “mariguana” and wasn’t meant to produce offense. 

The Mexican Revolution; however, gave way to many Mexican citizens fleeing to the U.S. They were searching for migrant labor in the 1890s and beyond. The word took on a more sinister meaning. 

The increase in Mexcian immigrants promoted a gust of racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Collections upon collections of news articles dating to the early twentieth century greatly implied that marijuana causes violence among the Mexicans who smoked it. 

One headline from 1925 read: “KILLS SIX IN A HOSPITAL; Mexican, crazed by Marihana, Runs Amuck With Butcher Knife.”


The fact is: there are over one thousand, two hundred names for cannabis and more than two thousand, three hundred names for individual strains. “Cannabis” probably sounds more elegant or scientific. But where exactly does the name come from? 

“Cannabis” originated from Scythian and Thracian words. It meant “common hemp”. According to the ancient Greek writer, Herodotus, “The Scythians take some of this hempseed and creeping under the felt coverings, throw it upon the hot-red stones, immediately it smokes and gives out such a vapour, as no Grecian vapour-bath can exceed; the Scyths, delighted, shout for joy.”


Ganja is one of the oldest and commonly used names for the devil’s lettuce, going back to the 1600s. It hails from the Indian language, Sanskrit. It meant, “a powerful preparation from cannabis sativa”.

Seen as early as 1856 in the English language, the British enacted a tax on the “ganja” trade. 


Have you ever heard the devil’s lettuce being called “Bud”? It refers to the plant’s anatomy. It’s a “small lateral or terminal protuberance on the stem of a plant that may develop into a flower, leaf, or shoot.”

This part of the plant is made up of small sugar leaves, pistols which come from those little leaves. This is the part that you actually smoke. 

The bud tells us that the devil’s precious lettuce is really just a flower.


Anyone familiar with the landrace strain? It’s known as Hindu Kush. Landrace strains are unique. These plants survive through millennia. When you call the devil’s lettuce, “Kush”, you’re naming it after the Hindu Kush mountain range that stretches five-hundred miles between Afghanistan and Pakistan


“Pot” seems like the most common nickname. Perhaps, it is. It may come from the Mexican-Spanish word, potiguaya. Potiguaya is the name of an alcoholic beverage mixed with cannabis. 

What do you call the devil’s lettuce? Drop your nicknames off in the comments!

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