Weed memes, explained
It’s pretty clear why the internet and weed go hand in hand: the internet has become a virtual haven for weed-lovers to shop for cannabis and accessories, find information, and share their experiences with others.
Funny memes are one of the many ways that weed and online culture collide, creating a communal space for tech-savvy stoners to laugh, interact, and keep up on the latest trends. From the OGs to the newest weed meme creators, members of this ever-growing community continue to push the boundaries of novelty and absurdity in the name of late-night, red-eyed giggles shared across the globe.
With a heightened sense of anxiety and reduced social interactions due to the spread of novel coronavirus, it’s even more important to find ways to stay connected. Whether you’re organizing virtual smoke seshes or sharing an obnoxious amount of memes in your group chat, the ultimate goal is to stay sane, safe, and of course, lifted.
What exactly is a meme?
From the classics like Grumpy Cat to newer trends like the Spongebob Ight Imma Head Out meme, the average millennial or gen Zer could probably recognize a meme from a mile away. But what exactly makes a meme a meme, and how did they become part of stoner culture?
While weed memes are a fairly new concept, the word “meme” was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins developed the pre-internet concept as part of his theory of how ideas replicate, mutate, and evolve in the context of evolutionary biology, later characterizing an internet meme as a meme deliberately altered by human creativity. He explained that Internet memes are essentially a “hijacking of the original idea,” the concept itself having mutated in this new direction.
In a 2019 ThoughtCo article, sociology expert Nicki Lisa Cole said, “According to Dawkins, three factors lead memes to be spread, copied, or adapted from person to person: Copy-fidelity, the possibility that the thing in question can be accurately copied, fecundity, the speed at which the thing is replicated [and] longevity, or staying power.”
Visual online content becomes a meme only if elements of it are copied and/or creatively altered and reposted on a very large scale. While there is no exact number of copies, shares, or reimaginations that signifies a post has officially reached internet memedom, we know it when we see it.
When did weed memes happen?
The obvious answer is that we as humans love to share, laugh, and commiserate with other humans. Smoking weed is a bonding experience for many, and just like any other community it has its niche memes that unite weed-lovers far and wide.
Though we can’t say for sure what the earliest weed meme was, some certainly paved the way for online weed culture. One of the most notable is Good Guy Greg, the antithesis to Scumbag Steve and all-around nice guy. If you haven’t seen him around the internet within the last decade (in which case I feel really old), Good Guy Greg is depicted as a happy guy with a joint in his mouth and is rumored to have started on 4chan‘s /b/ board (an internet forum where just about anything goes), but an archived thread has yet to be found.
While the majority of Good Guy Greg memes don’t mention the joint in his mouth, they were some of the first memes we can find that relate to weed in any capacity. Think of Good Guy Greg as your ideal fictional best friend, always smoking weed and always being super courteous about it.
Reddit’s /r/trees board, created in 2009, is home to many of the internet’s first legitimate weed memes. According to the subreddit’s FAQ, “Trees is a place where we can be free to speak our (smoked-out) minds. The community here is comfortable in our hobby, and enjoys seeing what other people think about when they’re flying high.”
Among my personal favorites of the early memes posted to /r/trees is the prolific Really High Guy, sometimes known as Stoner Stanley. The meme came into existence in 2011 when Redditor u/randomdave posted a photo of a red-faced young man to the subreddit titled “Being at a  is not always pretty.” That same day, the picture was submitted by redditor u/Ahahaha__10 with the caption “Texts the person next to them / ‘I want hospital.'”
The  in the original post is derived from the scoring system used by members of /r/trees to measure highness. A 10, as you may have guessed from this guy’s face, is really, really stoned. Today’s weed memes might look a bit different, but they serve essentially the same purpose — making people laugh about relatable stoner problems, like getting too high.
As the internet has expanded beyond any limits we would ever have imagined a decade ago, weed memes have evolved too. Though some purists consider memes to be funny combinations of images and text that go viral, they can also be standalone photos, videos, GIFs, and hashtags.
The best weed memes of 2020 vary not only in form but in the topics they discuss. They can highlight social and political issues, feature relevant aspects of popular culture, and be purely silly or, at times, serious and informative.
Where can I get my weed meme fix?
You can find funny weed memes all over the internet nowadays, from Instagram to Twitter to Facebook. Personally, I use Instagram solely to share memes (often weed-related) with my friends and watch cooking videos. The below list includes some of the best Instagram accounts for meme hunting while stoned.
With nearly 4 million followers, this account is super popular among weed meme lovers. The account features a spectrum of relatable content including memes about weed-related mishaps, getting the munchies, and of course, smoking during coronavirus.
As what might be the biggest weed meme account on the scene, Weed Humor has an impressive 5.4 million followers. Both memes and promotional content are featured on this private page, which means you have to request to follow them for hilarious weed memes that are always on-trend.
This account isn’t dedicated entirely to weed, but rather to the kinds of thoughts you have when you’re stoned. Some of the memes are about getting stoned, others are about totally random things, but they’re always funny (especially when you just faced a bowl).
Largely made up of short clips, the Now This Weed account is not like the others on this list. The content isn’t necessarily funny, but they are shareable memes by definition. They discuss major issues in the cannabis industry like legalization, plus lots of bizarre and cool things about weed you probably didn’t know.
Study Finds Consumers Have Positive Views Of Legal Cannabis
A study of consumer attitudes released recently found that residents of states with legal cannabis have a positive view of the regulated marketplace. Results of the research, “Consumer perceptions of ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ cannabis in US states with legal cannabis sales,” were released online last month ahead of the publication of the study in the journal Addictive Behaviors early next year.
To conduct the study, researchers with the University of Waterloo’s School of Public Health in Canada surveyed adult consumers in states with legal cannabis and asked them about their views of the regulated marketplace. Investigators surveyed 5,530 respondents residing in Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
The study examined consumer perceptions of quality, price, convenience, and safety of use and purchasing cannabis from legal versus illegal sources in U.S. states with legal retail sales. The study also attempted to examine associations between cannabis use, length of time since legal sales began, and perceptions of legal cannabis.
Well over half (59.2%) of the survey participants reported that, compared to an illicit supplier, cannabis was more convenient to obtain from a licensed source and 56.1% said it was a safer way to purchase cannabis. Additionally, 37.6% of consumers said that they believed the quality of the cannabis offered at licensed businesses was superior to what can be purchased from unlicensed sellers, although more than 30% of respondents said that legal cannabis is more expensive. Less than 15% of respondents in any state reported that legal cannabis was less expensive than that purchased from unlicensed sources. The study also found that 40.3% of those surveyed felt that cannabis purchased from legal sources was safer to use than unregulated products.
Better Over Time
Researchers also found that consumer perceptions varied according to the length of time since legal cannabis sales began. Respondents living in more mature legal markets that had legalized marijuana earlier were more likely to perceive legal cannabis as being of higher quality. The survey also found that consumers in mature markets were less likely to say that legal pot was more expensive.
“The current findings suggest generally positive perceptions of the legal cannabis market. Most respondents, including frequent cannabis consumers, perceived legal cannabis to be of equal or greater quality and convenience, and as safer to buy and use than cannabis from illegal sources,” the authors of the new study wrote.
Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), noted in a statement about the research that no state that has approved the medicinal use of marijuana or cannabis for use by adults has ever repealed its legalization measures.
“This data once again affirms that most voters do not experience ‘buyer’s remorse’ following marijuana legalization,” he said. “In the minds of most Americans, these laws are operating as voters intended and in a manner that is consistent with their expectations.”
The findings of the study are consistent with a poll conducted in April which found that more than half of respondents in states with legal cannabis believed that legalization was a success overall.
What Are Kamala Harris’ Current—And Past—Views On Cannabis?
As Sen. Kamala Harris takes her place on the ticket with presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, voters are taking a closer look at her record on the issues of the day. And while Harris’ experience as a prosecutor in California gives some in the cannabis community pause, others point to her apparent evolution on the matter as a sign of hope for the future. Harris made history on Tuesday when Biden announced that he had selected her to become his vice-presidential candidate, the first woman of color to achieve that position on the ticket of a major U.S. political party.
While she was the district attorney for San Francisco, Harris oversaw the prosecution of marijuana offenses leading to nearly 2,000 convictions during her tenure, which lasted from 2004 to 2010. Also during that time, she co-wrote an argument against a cannabis legalization measure for a 2010 voter information pamphlet. And as California Attorney General in 2014, she laughed when a reporter asked if she would support the legalization of cannabis for recreational use.
Sen. Harris Espouses Reform
But following her rise to the national scene with her election as the junior Democratic senator from California in 2016, Harris’ stance on cannabis began to soften and she expressed support for several pieces of pro-cannabis legislation. In 2018, she signed on as a co-sponsor of New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act in 2018, a bill that would remove cannabis from the nation’s list of controlled substances.
“Right now in this country people are being arrested, being prosecuted, and end up spending time in jail or prison all because of their use of a drug that otherwise should be considered legal,” Harris said in a statement announcing her support for Booker’s bill. “Making marijuana legal at the federal level is the smart thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. I know this as a former prosecutor and I know it as a senator.”
A year later, as a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Harris revealed that she had personal experience with cannabis. During an appearance on the popular New York City radio program “The Breakfast Club,” she told host Charlamagne Tha God that she had smoked cannabis while in college.
“I have. And I inhaled,” Harris said,” referring to Bill Clinton’s half-baked admission to using marijuana in 1992. “I did inhale. It was a long time ago, but yes.”
‘You know, I joke about it – half joke – but half my family’s from Jamaica! Are you kidding me?” she added, a remark that drew rebuke from her Jamaican father for perpetuating a stereotype “in the pursuit of identity politics.”
Her claim also drew criticism from those who noted that Harris said she had listened to Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur while high, although both artists did not release any recordings until years after she graduated from college in 1986.
In October 2019, Harris reiterated her support for cannabis policy reform in an op-ed for CNN, citing the racial disparity in the enforcement of the nation’s drug laws that has been documented time and time again.
“The fact is, marijuana laws have not been enforced in the same way for all people. Data show that a person of color is much more likely than a white person to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite evidence that Americans use marijuana at nearly the same rate, regardless of race,” Harris wrote.
“As public opinion of marijuana shifts toward legalization, it’s time we do the smart thing—the right thing—and ensure any marijuana reform legislation we put on the table adequately addresses the harm caused by the failed drug policies of the past,” she continued.
As a senator, Harris has also signed on to two other important pieces of cannabis legislation, including the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would legalize cannabis at the federal level and enact provisions to address the harms caused by the failed War on Drugs. She is also the co-sponsor of a bill known as the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which would give legal cannabis businesses access to common financial services.
Progressives Offer Lukewarm Support
But some progressives including Cori Bush, who unseated a Democratic incumbent representative in St. Louis and will likely head to the House after the November election, aren’t completely comfortable with Harris’ seeming about-face on matters of cannabis policy and criminal justice reform. Although Bush said she would not “tear down another woman of color,” she was torn about Biden’s selection of Harris.
“I applaud her for the way that she has evolved, but people were hurt while she was figuring out how to evolve,” she told the New York Times, referring to the time Harris’ spent as a prosecutor in California. “And we cannot forget that those people matter. I stand with them and want them to know I will represent them as hard as I can.”
The chances for cannabis reform if Biden is elected president seem limited at best. Last month, Democratic Party delegates voted not to include the legalization of marijuana at the federal level in its platform for 2020, and Biden is cool to the idea after years of outright opposition. While some in the cannabis community view the democratic ticket with trepidation, Justin Strekal, the political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, took the announcement of Harris’ selection as an opportunity for a potential Biden administration to express a commitment to criminal justice reform.
“Passage of the MORE Act is essential in order to truly right the wrongs of federal marijuana criminalization,” Strekal said. “It is time for the Democratic Party to adopt the marijuana policy reform platform that is currently articulated by Senator Harris’s MORE Act.”
“Should the Democratic-led House take action in the coming months to pass the MORE Act, it would demonstrate to voters that they, like the super-majority of Americans, recognize that the time has come to end the failed policy of marijuana criminalization,” he added. “Federal marijuana prohibition was implemented in 1937 explicitly out of racial animus. This criminalization is not, nor has it ever been, an evidence-based public policy. It’s time for this country to do better.”
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