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Thursday April 28, 2022

By Erin Hiatt

A cannabis nug in someone's hand that is green and full of orange hairs. Education

Are you new to the land of weed and a bit bewildered by the lingo? The strain names alone can be head-spinning (Alaskan Thunderf**k, anyone?), but toss around terms like full spectrum, solventless, dabbing, cannabinoid, terpene, etc. and you feel like you need a weed dictionary or a translator fluent in marijuana-ese just to go to the dispensary and pick up some bud.

Keep calm and smoke on, we got you. Let’s start with something basic but important: dried cannabis flower, the green stuff you roll into a joint and puff on, often referred to as a nug.

What is a Nug?

Before marijuana gets packaged up all pretty and on display at your local dispensary, it is a cola, a botanical term that refers to the flowering site of a female plant, consisting of the entire flower and its connection to the larger plant.

Growing weed is a multi-stage process that takes many months, and cannabis ready for consumption doesn’t just pop out fully formed. What starts as a cola eventually becomes manicured and dried bud, aka the smokable part of the cannabis plant.

a nug of weed is held up against a beautiful lake background
Nugs are typically green, but they can also contain purple, orange and red. photo credit

Many refer to this final dried product as cannabis flower, but in cannabis lingo and culture, flower is often referred to as a nugget, or to break it down one step further, a nug. In its simplest iteration, nug means a dried chunk of cannabis flower that’s ready to be smoked. You may also see it referred to as nugs, nuggs, and nuggz.

But to get even more specific about the definition of nug, you can think of it as large or small cannabis pieces that often refer to its quality – typically the good stuff. Nugs should be trichome rich, without seeds, and deep or light green with no browning.

The Origin of Nug

We wish we knew. No one really knows how this term made its way into cannabis nomenclature, but there is at least one theory. Some hypothesize that it’s left over from the Gold Rush, when 19th century seekers traipsed all over the west looking for golden nuggets, or simply nuggets, and the financial windfall that would hopefully follow. It is thought that the term “nuggets” grew over time to include any small lumps or chunks of value.

a person's hands are held out, filled with small golden nuggets
Some speculate that “nug” originated from the Gold Rush and the popularity of golden nuggets. photo credit

Cannabis nugs have made an imprint on popular culture that the Gold Rush has lost. You can find the term nug beyond the dispensary, and your circle of friends, in music over the past twenty-ish years.

Popular Songs Referencing Nugs

  • “Get Hi,” Danny Brown with B-Real: “...The kinda dope you swear could make dreams come true. Sticky icky nugs, real furry buzz…”
  • “Higher Learning,” Young Jeezy with Snoop Dogg, Devin the Dude, and Mitchelle: “...I fell hard for the funk, I smoke dro, good Reggie, smoke shake to nugs. If it’s weed, then I’m with it…”
  • “Where the Weed At?” Kottonmouth Kings: “...I got the bomb weed, you know I’m blowin’ hella tokes. I got the good s**t that leave you laid up on the floor. I got the crip nugs, I got the big sacks, I got the type of bud that kick you in your f**kin a**.”

The Wrap-Up

A nug is a dried chunk of cannabis flower, most often of high quality, that is ready to be smoked. While it may seem simple, the truth is that many beginners often find themselves lost when it comes to cannabis slang. As many seasoned consumers know, it doesn't take too much effort to catch on with the terminology though. So share this article with someone just getting into their cannabis journey so they're not scratching their heads when someone is raving about the "dank nugs" they just purchased.

What are your favorite cannabis terms? Let us know in the comments!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Erin Hiatt Erin Hiatt

Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work - which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor - covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.

Erin's work and industry insights have been featured on the podcasts The Let's Go Eat Show, In the Know 420, and she has appeared as a featured panelist on the topic of hemp media. Erin has interviewed top industry experts such as Dr. Carl Hart, Ethan Nadelmann, Amanda Feilding, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Dr. James Fadiman, and culture icons Governor Jesse Ventura, and author Tom Robbins. You can follow her work on LinkedInWordpress, @erinhiatt on Twitter, and @erinisred on Instagram.

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