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Alana Rossi
August 19, 2023

Pot is a classic slang term for cannabis that emerged in the U.S. during the 1920s and 1930s as marijuana permeated into jazz culture and gained notoriety. The origin of the word itself is debated, but it likely derives from the Spanish term potación de guaya referencing wine spiked with cannabis—potaciones meaning “drink” and guaya meaning “grief.” Regular guaya wine was already common at the time. Cannabis-infused potación de guaya then shortened to “potaguaya,” and then finally “pot”.

Another related theory is pot came from the Spanish potiguaya, meaning “cannabis leaves.” In both cases, Spanish terms were Anglicized and shortened into “pot” as casual slang. While still informal, pot is not derogatory. It continues to appear commonly in cannabis culture in phrases like pothead, pot farm, pot shop, cooking pot, and pot luck.

With growing legalization, the more formal and scientific term cannabis is preferred by many industry operators, legislators, and advocates aiming to shape perceptions. But for casual use, pot remains a harmless standby reference to weed, herb, and grass.

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