What Does OG Mean? The Theories Behind the Legend

The origins of the term are unconfirmed and hotly debated

Closeup of an OG Kush Plant Source: Shutterstock

When it comes to cannabis strains, names really do matter. Some strains are named after their visible characteristics (White Widow, for example) while others are named after their creators—like “Bubba” of Bubba Kush fame. Most importantly, a large number of strains give some insight into their lineage and genetics. For example, Sour OG is the result of crossbreeding Sour Diesel and OG Kush. The term “OG” finds its way into many of the options you will see on dispensary shelves, but what does OG mean when talking about weed strains? The origins of the term are unconfirmed and hotly debated. Let’s take a look at a few of the theories for how OG ended up with the name.

What Does OG Mean?

The stigma and legal implications surrounding cannabis make it difficult to find verified information on the history of many strains. Much of what we think we know is based on rumor and hearsay, including the origin story of the term “OG.” While much of this famous moniker is shrouded in mystery, there are three major and several lesser-known theories regarding the meaning of OG when it comes to cannabis.

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Original Gangster

For many of us, when we hear the term “OG,” we envision an established and dominant gang member and the term “Original Gangster.” The phrase was popularized by members of the Los Angeles hip hop scene in the 80s and 90s and became particularly ubiquitous after the release of Ice-T’s fourth studio album, O.G. Original Gangster, in 1991. 

This theory suggests that, when it comes to cannabis, OG refers to a strain of weed that is powerful and deserving of respect, and there are prominent supporters of this postulation. A representative of DNA Genetics, a group of well-known cannabis cultivators, went on record with the San Diego Sun in 2011 stating that the hip hop group Cypress Hill, who have had a lasting influence on the cannabis scene, were the ones who originally labeled a certain weed strain as the “original gangster” of kushes. The representative is quoted stating, “There are also stories of the O.G. standing for ‘Ocean Grown,’ but being from LA we believe and feel that the O.G. comes from the Cypress family.”

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Ocean Grown

Some cannabis enthusiasts advocate that OG stands for “Ocean Grown.” Legend has it that a California cannabis grower got into a conversation with a fellow pot smoker who pulled out a bag of weed and offered to pack it up. The grower instantly recognized its aroma and knew instinctively that it was his own product.  The fellow stoner referred to his bag of weed as “mountain-grown” (most likely referring to strains associated with the Hindu Kush mountain range in Asia). Unable to ignore this misclassification, the cannabis grower was rumored to have corrected his new acquaintance by stating that the weed he had purchased was, in fact, ocean-grown, referring to the coastal region of California.

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OverGrow

A less popular theory is that OG stands for “overgrow.” One of the earliest pot-growing forums on the web, OverGrow.com was launched in 1999 with the intention to “overgrow” some of the other popular cannabis websites at the time. The site offered growing tips and discussion and grew to over 60,000 members in just a few short years. Just as “FB” has become a popular shorthand for Facebook, OverGrow users commonly referred to the forum as “OG.” 

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As the need for revenue grew, seed vendors were allowed to advertise their wares on the site, inviting attention from law enforcement. The site was ultimately shut down by the Canadian government in 2006. Overgrow has since been revitalized with the following mission: “We have overgrown the government. So let’s Overgrow the World!”

There are several other hypotheses of the origin of “OG,” from the suggestion that it is simply a shortened form of the word “original” to the idea that it is an acronym for a British derogatory slang term. No matter who named it, we’re just happy to enjoy these potent and popular strains.

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What are Popular OG Strains Like?

Regardless of how OG came to be, the term has become synonymous with great weed. Now that you know the possible origins, you may be wondering what makes OG strains so great. 

OG Kush

Although it is difficult to know the genetic origins of the strain, OG Kush is considered to be the parent strain of many other well-loved varieties of weed. It is characterized by a high THC content (typically between 20 and 25%) and its mood-booting effects. It is believed to be a cross between Chemdawg and a Hindu Kush landrace strain with both sativa and indica characteristics. The aroma is a combination of musty and citrus notes, often likened to a hop-heavy craft beer.  The high is characterized by increased focus and a euphoric change in mood. Some medical patients use this strain to improve symptoms of depression, ADHD, and even migraines.

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Skywalker OG

As the name suggests, this strain is a cross between Skywalker and OG Kush. This 85/15 indica-heavy strain offers notes of spice and diesel on the nose and tongue and is said to provide a strong and highly-relaxing body high. Medical users often chose Skywalker OG to provide temporary relief from chronic pain, and those who suffer from insomnia may also benefit from its sleep-promoting effects.

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Fire OG

With its high THC content and strong cerebral effects, Fire OG is generally recommended for more experienced users. Fans of this indica-dominant strain often take just a few puffs before bed to achieve a great night’s sleep. Tasting notes include citrus, fuel, and pine.

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Tahoe OG

Developed by a Lake Tahoe native, Tahoe OG is a highly-rated strain for both its earthy citrus flavor and its powerful effects. A well-balanced hybrid, it offers both the relaxing and sleep-promoting characteristics of an indica and the uplifting and creative cerebral effects commonly associated with sativa strains. Its appearance is typically a large neon green cluster with a heavy coating of trichomes and orange and red hairs. 

While we may never know the true origins of the OG name, we can be sure that these well-loved strains will remain popular with breeders and consumers alike for years to come.

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