Ganja is a Hindi name for hemp, derived from the word ganjha, from the Tamil word கஞ்சா , referring to a "powerful preparation from cannabis sativa". The term ganja, one of the oldest and most commonly used synonyms for marijuana in the English language, dates to before 1689.


Ganj, originally meaning "treasure" in Middle Persian and Modern Persian, is now a commonly used suffix/prefix meaning "place of treasure" in Urdu, Hindustani, Punjabi, and Bengali as a place name to denote a market town or somewhere such as bazaar or mandi to exchange merchandise in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

گنج • (ganj) (plural گنج‌ها‎ (ganj-hâ) From Old Persian (/ganza/, “treasure”), probably from Old Median *ganǰəm (“treasure”).

The word was used in Europe as early as 1856, when the British enacted a tax on the "ganja" trade.

One academic source places the date of introduction of ganja in Jamaica at 1845. The term came with 19th century workers whose descendants are now known as Indo-Jamaicans.

Contemporary use of the term ganja

English use

Ganja is the most common term for marijuana in Jamaica.

Use of the term ganja in popular culture

In 1975, Peter Tosh defended the use of ganja in the song "Legalize It". The hip hop group Cypress Hill revived the term in the United States in 2004 in a song titled "Ganja Bus", followed by other artists including rapper Eminem in the 2009 song "Must Be the Ganja".