In 1953, the Oxford English Dictionary defined “stoned” as: “Under the influence of drugs,” whereas now in 2022, it defines “stoned” as “A state of not behaving or thinking normally because of the effects of a drug, such as marijuana or alcohol.” Today’s blog will take you through the roots and history of the word “stoner.” Where did stoners even come from?

How Stoners Grew in Popularity

However, the word “stoned” has been around much longer than in the 1950s. In fact, “stoned” goes back to Old Testament Biblical times when alleged “sinners” could be publicly punished by having stones hurled at them. Aside from being a horrifically violent act, public stonings were also used as a way to shame and disgrace those whose actions were deemed unbefitting to society.

Fast forward thousands of years, and by the 1920s and ‘30s, “stoned” or “stoned drunk” were slang terms used for individuals who were completely inebriated on booze and looking like they’d been beaten up or completely battered as if they had been stoned. These days, stoners are rarely, if ever, used to describe someone who has had one too many drinks. Nowadays, these slangs are most commonly associated with those who use cannabis; although, technically, they could be used to describe those who are high on mushrooms, LSD, etc.

While it remains unknown to etymologists as to how “stoned” went from being a form of capital punishment to first being synonymous with being drunk and then later–high, there are a few theories out there as to the origins of the words “stoner” and “stoned” being used in regards to the use or abuse of various substances. Many say that these two terms are rooted in stonato, which is Italian for “bewildered, confused, or dazed.” (If this is the case then it makes one wonder if the cult-classic Dazed and Confused could’ve just as easily been called Stonato.)


Theories Behind the Stoner Label

Other theories say that “stoned” comes from being couch-locked, as the effect could be compared to being like a stone that sits in one place and is incapable of moving. Then, there are those who take things all the way back to Old Testament days of cruel and unusual punishments and say that being “stoned” is literally rooted in being pummeled by stones because being intoxicated or high is a form of physical harm to the body.

While none of these theories can be proven or disproven, what is certain is that “stoned” and stoners no longer carry the stigma that they once did even a few decades ago. With so many countries and states in the U.S. having evolved in their attitudes towards both recreational and medical cannabis usage, being a “stoner” is less and less associated with being some kind of degenerate straight white male adult in his mid-to-late-20s and older who is still living in his parent’s basement playing video games and collecting unemployment due to being too lazy on account of being stoned all the time. Instead, nowadays, a “stoner” is pretty much anyone who uses weed; this includes teachers, professors, therapists, athletes, highly-trained professionals, skilled tradesfolk, healthcare providers, etc. 


Stoners and Other Weed Slang

Here are just a few more of the numerous cannabis-related terms and phrases that exist, with some brief explanations around what they mean and/or how they entered the cannabis lexicon. 


Back in the 1970s five high school friends in California known as “the Waldos” would meet at 4:20 pm every week to look for a legendary cannabis plant that a member of the U.S. Coast Guard had planted and left behind. The reason that they met at this exact time was that they all had sports practices to attend before 4:20 pm. As such, “420” became their code for meeting up to getting high. Long story short, 420 entered popular mainstream culture because a dad and a brother of two of the Waldos worked with the Grateful Dead and the Waldos would hang out at their practice sessions and with the band. When someone smoked or passed a joint they’d say “Hey, 420.” And the rest, as they say, is history.


As you know, a blunt is a cigar that’s been hollowed out and filled with weed. However, the term itself comes from Phillies Blunt, which is a brand of cigars. Blunts were brought into being in NYC by some ingenious stoners who wanted to come up with a more discrete way to get high.

Mary Jane

Mary Jane is a wordplay on the Spanish pronunciation of marijuana, which to the ears of English speakers sounds like “Maria Juana”–hence: Mary Jane


As you probably know, shotgunning is when one person inhales cannabis smoke and exhales it directly into another’s mouth so that both parties get high. However, the term itself is said to come from during the Vietnam War when soldiers would empty a shotgun, attach a bowl to the chamber, and blow into it. The soldier on the other end would inhale the smoke that came out of the tip of the barrel and pass the shotgun around.


While this common slang tends to refer to inhaling one hit of cannabis, it’s also used to mean the opposite of a very long smoke session. It’s not 100% clear where “toke” comes from, but most believe it to come from the word tocar, which is Spanish for “touch/tap.” 

Wacky Tobacky

While this term isn’t part of today’s mainstream cannabis slang, you are still likely to hear it from time to time when used jokingly or ironically. Basically, it’s rooted in the 1950s and is a play on how both tobacco and cannabis were rolled into joints, but the latter would make the user act more “wacky” than smoking tobacco.



Obviously, this list is only a small sampling of all the cannabis slang that exist. If you have any you’d like to share with the historical and/or etymological roots, please do so in the comments section below.

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