The first word that comes to mind when, it comes to cannabis slang is “pot,” but “weed” is the way to say, since it is older, sounds edgier and is all-American.
Initially, the term “weed” was used for the way of smoking marijuana, not the herb itself. Toward the end of The Roaring Twenties and at the beginning of The Great Depression, more and more people started smoking cannabis, as they were trying to find a way to feel uplifted. It was around that period that “weed” became synonym for “marijuana cigarette“, instead of its usage as the way of smoking cannabis.
“Weed” was first printed in 1932, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The honor belongs to The Chicago Defender , that was once labeled as “the most dangerous of all Negro journals,” that first wrote “The humble ‘reefer,’ ‘the weed,’ the marijuana, or [whatever you call] a doped cigarette, has moved to Park Ave. from Harlem,” when pointing out the migration of cannabis from the slums to the high society in New York.
The term spread to the U.K. through Melody Maker, who, in 1932, wrote that ‘Song of the Weed” and “Reefer Man” were worth the reader’s money.
In addition, listen to Cab Calloway’s “Reefer Man.” Closely pay attention to the intro and listen how he reams out his bass player for smoking weed.