A List of Legal Weed Terms and What They Really Mean

No, your doctor cannot write you a weed 'prescription.' Anywhere. Yet.

When it comes to the cannabis legalization movement, sometimes the language used to describe the rapidly evolving landscape is as confusing as the weird laws being written in an attempt to govern it; or the names/origin stories of most modern strains.

We're still not entirely sure if we want to smoke 'Ghost Train Haze,' or if that's a new game we should be playing next time we blaze down? Or maybe even avoiding like the Zika virus? 

So why then are weed words so often assigned muddled meanings? One takeaway is to attribute the confusion to lazy media pimping out misinformation. (You say spliff, I say crutch.) Or perhaps any redefining of the lit lexicon is just indicative of the sheer newness of all this weed talk––at least for the mainstream, modern, cannabis consumer/entrepreneur/every-day-American. 

The KIND has a penchant for pot, and words. Which is why we've broken down the real meaning behind some of the most common phrases thrown around the weed world. By no means is this list all-inclusive, but it might lift some of the haze surrounding the new weedspeak

Image via Dank Depot

Medical Marijuana

Depending on where one's hopes and dreams to actually consume said complicated green live, "medical marijuana" can mean something completely different altogether#areacodes. In California, it's been legal since 1996, not regulated until 2015, and mostly a veil phrase for a commodity that is traded prolifically and used recreationally––but California medical weed helps sick people too. In Pennsylvania, medical pot is confined to a non-psychoactive pill, oil, or topical ointment; and in Illinois, it is held hostage by a racist and flawed system that at its best is hindered by impenetrable bureaucracy. In the general sense, medical marijuana is just marijuana

Image via Portland Press Harold


This is another term that has different meanings depending on where it's used. In Pennsylvania, confused lawmakers self-identified as medical-marijuana caregivers after signing a skimpy bill that barely legalizes some forms of weed. The requirements to give (weed) care in Colorado are spelled out clearly by the state government, with an application and everything. In California, the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) bases a rough definition of caregiver on weed decisions that have gone down in the courts:

"In the case People v. Mentch (2008), the court ruled: 'a defendant whose caregiving consisted principally of supplying marijuana and instructing on its use, and who otherwise only sporadically took some patients to medical appointments, cannot qualify as a primary caregiver. . . A defendant asserting primary caregiver status must prove at a minimum that he or she (1) consistently provided caregiving, (2) independent of any assistance in taking medical marijuana, (3) at or before the time he or she assumed responsibility for assisting with medical marijuana."

Basically, like so much else with weed, the definition and current legal status is fluid, at best. 

Image via VSCO


Do you use marijuana to alleviate symptoms ranging from migraines to menstrual cramps, to post traumatic stress disorder? In some states, hell, even in Canada, this makes you a medical marijuana patient. But remember, in the eyes of the Federal Government, you're still a user of a Schedule I narcotic; and could go to prison for smoking pot.

Image via Instagram

Responsible Adult Use

The theorized happy medium between Mary Louise Parker's character from Weeds, and Snoop Dogg's daily weed intake, with perhaps a weekend exemption for dabbing. Responsible adult use is the label that advocates hoping to legalize cannabis use to present an image of why legal weed is actually not that bad of an idea. Despite the elevation of responsible adults in multiple states to legal status, a still-present-everywhere ban on using cannabis (for medical or recreational purposes) responsibly, as an adult/with other adults, in public, remains. 

Image via Fast & Friendly


This term is not synonymous with prescription. The two are oft mistakenly interchanged in media coverage of weed stuff and in conversation by canna-curious people. 

NO: "I went to the weed doctor and got a prescription for that OG Kush, homie dudes." 

REALLY NO: "Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and 17 states have laws allowing physicians to prescribe oils derived from marijuana plants."

YES! YES! YES!: "Doctors are federally barred from prescribing marijuana, though physicians in medical-marijuana states may recommend it in various forms, to patients meeting certain qualifying conditions." 

Image via Instagram


By no means is an initiative some all-encompassing law that makes weed legal and immediately accessible. It's really just a jazzy way of saying: "A bunch of people are proposing for something to change, or go down, or be made into law." Sometimes, initiatives can be funded by rich people that are not only swimming in dolla dolla bill$, but also down for said initiated cause. 

Image via OC Register

Marijuana Czar

Not a Russian oligarch that loves to dab, the "Marijuana Czar" branding is a title bestowed upon the California Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation's inaugural director, Lori Ajax. The Czar and her squad are working to determine how the Golden State will license, regulate, and tax the sticky (should it become legal) icky. Ajax reportedly has a budget of $10 million to turn this at-present pipe-dream into a reality by January 1, 2018. 

Image via JJIE

Synthetic Cannabis 

This is a tricky one. Synthetic cannabis is used as a blanket statement for legal (in some places) highs, also known as K2, or Spice. This is wrong. Such substances are more like potpourri sprayed with Windex. Whereas "Synthetic THC" can mean laboratory fabricated medical treatments used to fight life-ending diseases. 

From New Boston Post

 "In fact, there are two FDA-approved synthetic versions of THC, Dronabinol (also called Marinol) and Cesemet, which are prescribed to treat nausea and vomiting for patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer or to stimulate appetite for patients with AIDS. A side effect of these drugs is euphoria, which means they can make you high."

Oy vey, navigating the weed world is tough, but talking about it certainly doesn't have to be.