Stoner Dictionary | Reefer

Reefer: noun 1. a slang term for a joint or marijuana

Example: “I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn that all four of them habitually smoked marijuana cigarettes… reefer.” – Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)

Green buds of wondrous potential and good vibes, or reefer for short. Reefer is another term used for marijuana, weed, pot, grass, whichever you prefer. It is rumored that the name

originated from a joint’s resemblance to a rolled up reef sail on a ship. “Captain, we’ve reached Reefer Island!” This is one of the earliest slang terms for marijuana originating in the 1920s and began garnering popularity in 1933 with the release of the film International House where famous jazz musician and bandleader Cab Calloway performed the hemp jazz song titled “Reefer Man.” The introduction to the song somewhat reinforces the speculation that the term reefer came from a rolled up reef sail. The first few lines are a dialogue between Cab Calloway and another character in the film, introducing the song:

Man what’s the matter with that cat there?
Must be full of reefer.
Full of reefer?!
Yeah, man.
You mean that cat’s high?!
Sailing, sailing!
Sailing lightly.
Get away from here,
Man, is that the reefer man?
That’s the reefer man.

I believe he’s losing his mind.
I think he’s lost his mind!

Oh have you ever met that funny reefer man? (Reefer man!)
Have you ever met that funny reefer man? (Reefer man!)
If he said he swam to China, and he sells you South Carolina,
Then you know you’re talkin’ to that reefer man!

It was not until 1936, though, that reefer began to take on a new meaning with the release of the infamous Reefer Madness which depicted scenes of men becoming murderers and rapists and women becoming loose and suicidal just from puffing on sweet, compassionate Mary Jane. Here is an example of the “potaganda” this film attempted to spread:

Bureau Official: Here is an example: A fifteen-year-old lad apprehended in the act of staging a holdup. Fifteen years old and a marijuana addict. Here is a most tragic case. 
Dr. Carroll: Yes. I remember. Just a young boy… under the influence of drugs… who killed his entire family with an ax.

Fast forward 56 years to 1992 when the talented band Sublime from Long Beach, California released the album 40 oz. to Freedom where the cover song “Smoke Two Joints” begins with a sample of a famous line from the 1970 film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls containing the word reefer (a line that I am sure you all have memorized). Sublime brought the word back to the current generation’s marijuana slang dictionary and in a positive light, contrary to the goal of Reefer Madness. This term was also very popular in the 1960s and 1970s and was dominantly used along with the terms grass and pot. The term reefer is definitely a part of the American counter-culture slang and always will be. It definitely has a nice ring to it and is a favorite in many marijuana circles. If it’s not a frequent in your vocabulary try to use it more often, grab the lawn chairs, head to your backyard and burn some reefer.

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