When I heard Talib Kweli spit, "I pack trees in my khakis" on "Too Late" in 2000's Reflection Eternal, I couldn't understand why he called weed trees, until I started smoking the good shit and realized, "Woahhh...this nug actually looks like a tree."
Before Kweli, rappers often called weed "Lye" (pronounced "Lah"). The most famous example would be Nas on "Life's A Bitch." There have been countless times in my life where my "Fuck It" attitude has led me to recite,"Life's a bitch and then you die, that's why we puff lye, 'cause you never know, when you're gonna go!"
In his complete breakdown of slang words on "Ebonics," the late Big L famously explained, "My weed smoke is lye...when I'm lifted, I'm high."
Before the existence of Kush, OGs, and other high content super weed, Chronic was at the top of the weed hierarchy. It was first noted and immediately popularized in 1992 with Dr. Dre's iconic album title, The Chronic. If you were smoking this mostly indica, high-end quality kind of bud in the 1990's, then you were smoking what was thought to be the best weed on the market.
Rewind two decades to 1970, and you have the origin for the term "Kind" buds. This stoner slang for high quality marijuana evolved from The Grateful Dead lyric in "Uncle John's Band": "Wohoh, what I want to know is, are you kind?" As the quality of weed improved in the 1980's and The Dead were touring the country, Deadheads created this term to be able to describe marijuana without having to refer to the illegal substance by name.
I often find it funny when my hippie friends tell me, "Let's smoke some pot." My response is first, "Yes, lets." and immediately after, "What year are you living in?" It baffles me that the term of our parents' generation is still being used today. "Pot" became popular in the 1970s, although it was coined even earlier.
The word "Pot" is derived from the Spanish "Potiguaya," a mulled wine in which marijuana buds have been steeped. It literally translates to "the drink of grief." Decades after the hippie revolution, it's somehow still in use, although the term seems more fitting at Woodstock than Coachella.
People often mistakenly use the term "BC Buds" to describe highquality weed, but the term itself actually refers to strains grown in the British Columbia province, and not to any particular strain. Generally, the region does produce highquality buds, so the mistaken description is probably rooted in this.
On the flipside, we have the shitty quality of marijuana that most of us were subjected to in high school and college, either because we didn't know any better or didn't have much of a choice. Before the highquality buds were available at shops on damn near every corner, our supply came from the weed man. And his sources were always a mystery.
Regs, mids, schwag and dirt weed are hopefully a mere memory to most of us today, but there was a time when they were the norm.
"Mids" are shortterm for midgrade marijuana, a term for averagequality that is not "kind" bud yet not as low on the scale as schwag. "Regs" are short for regular ass weed of ok to low quality.
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"Schwag" refers to low grade quality; dry, leafy, and brown colored, frequently containing seeds that produces a weak high. As one smoker described a bag of schwag, "If you see it from a distance, it looks like a fuckin' pile of shit."
Schwag is also the type of weed that is most attributed to cartels. Most weed globally doesn't come from cartels, regular growers outnumber cartels 100,000 to 1. The cartels however, grow in much bigger quantities, usually outdoors.
States that are adjacent to Mexico, such as Texas and Arizona, have much higher odds of receiving cartel weed. Marijuana from cartels is also known to travel great distances to where margins are higher, such as the East Coast. Thus, Eastern North America has higher odds of receiving cartel weed than the West.
There are a number of indicators that your weed is coming from a cartel. Bad quality marijuana is usually the kind that comes in "brick" form. These bricks usually come in kilos, and non-cartels (the US and Canada included) use pounds for measurement. These large quantity (usually kilo) packagings are compressed as such for easier transport and are often used to smuggle schwag out of Mexico, Columbia and other Latin American countries.
As far as the quality, cartels don't care about it. They grow huge amounts in outdoor settings and move the weed long distances. The marijuana is usually old, not fresh, full of dirt, branches, bugs and is poorly trimmed.
Basically, as a rule of thumb, a total lack of quality usually signifies cartel weed.
The good news is that with the marijuana industry being as huge as it is today, most of us have lots of options and don't ever have to succumb to schwag again. I mean sure, when I was living on Hoover and Adams in the mouth of South Central, sometimes the neighborhood weed man would sell us some pretty disgusting stuff.
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But these days, all we have to do is get our shit together and go down to the nearest medical marijuana shop and pick from a hundred different strains. Or in some states, walk into a clinic and legally obtain top quality stuff for recreational use. And if none of those options are available, even the neighborhood weed man should offer some options.
In the words of Bizzy Bone on "Bad Weed Blues," "You ain't going to tell me ain't no sticky in this whole fuckin' city!"