If you’re a fan of rap, you must have heard the term ‘OG’ before. Although the word has been used for quite a while, it seems to have recently resurfaced on the internet with sentences like “he’s the OG” or “that was so OG.” So what is OG, what does it even mean and where does it come from?
According to Urban Dictionary’s most popular definition, OG is an abbreviation of the words ‘Original Gangster’, which is what the term was used for at first. Since then however, it has also been used to simply mean that something or someone is ‘original’—meaning, the first of its kind.
Technically, no, he didn’t. But he might be the first person people usually reference when using the term. Calling something or someone OG (or O.G.) dates back to the early 90s, around the same time Ice-T released his fourth studio album, O.G. Original Gangster in 1991. The album went to number 15 on the Billboard 200 chart and remains Ice-T’s most successful record to date.
In the record’s title song, ‘O.G. Original Gangster’ Ice-T gives his own version of an OG definition:
I ain’t no super hero
I ain’t no Marvel Comic
But when it comes to game I’m atomic
At droppin’ it straight
Point blank and untwisted
No imagination needed, ’cause I lived it
This ain’t no fuckin’ joke
This shit is real to me
And yet, as OG as Ice-T is, the term dates back way further than the rapper.
As we’ve said above, OG stands for ‘original gangster’. And who were the real original gangsters? The likes of Al Capone (sometimes known by the nickname ‘Scarface’), Bugs Moran, Owney Madden, and other bootleggers and mobsters of the Prohibition era.
Because ‘OG’ can be used in many different situations, you might have also heard someone using the term when talking about strains of weed. OG Kush is a popular strain which, according to Wikileaf, also draws its name from ‘Original Gangster’ due to its “status as an old-school building block strain.” Despite its fame, though, its exact origins remain a mystery. Some claim that it’s a cross between staple Chemdawg and a hardy Hindu Kush landrace. It’s also possible that OG Kush emerged from undocumented bag seed as a distinct phenotype of some other existing strain.
The meaning of its name is also disputed—the ‘OG’ part of its name has been alternately said to stand for ‘ocean grown’, in reference to its origin along the California coast and even OverGrown.com, a now-defunct website that served as a resource for countless cannabis growers. One thing that’s not up for debate is OG Kush’s potency—its THC composition has been consistently measured at “between 20 per cent and 25 per cent,” wrote Wikileaf.
Today, people continue to use OG online, especially on social media when discussing pop cultures such as movies, TV shows and reboots.
Legalising weed may be greener than you think. The list of positives for legalising weed is getting pretty lengthy—from de-escalating the war on drugs to increasing the quality of life of thousands; generating a sizeable proportion of tax to put back into public services to expanding our understanding of the effects of the drug and lowering the potentially psychosis-inducing potency of skunk… The list goes on. Yet, if none of these reasons has swayed you in the favour of cannabis legalisation, then perhaps this one will: climate change.
Unless you’re a FOX news consuming, tin-foil hat wearing, climate change denier—it’s pretty evident that climate change is arguably one of the most prominent existential threats humanity faces today. And, as it turns out, there is reason to believe the continued federal criminalisation of weed in the US is actually contributing to climate change. Let me explain.
A recent report by Politico explains the fact that the federal government still considers weed an illegal substance, which restricts the ability to sell across state lines. This forces legal growers in some states to use energy-intensive practices to meet the demands of fellow legal stoners.
To put things in brief: states in colder climates and with more restrictive laws are required to do most of their growing indoors—requiring a lot of energy-demanding equipment to create an artificial climate where weed can happily grow. Think of the high-powered lights, huge warehouses of bud and all the other things required to cultivate a state’s worth of legal weed. That racks up a huge energy bill that is not only costly to the grower but also has a huge cost for the environment.
According to a paper published by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), indoor cannabis production can require as much as 2,000 watts of electricity per square meter. Overall, this equates to more than one per cent of the total energy use in the US and costs about $6 billion per year. The energy output is the equivalent of adding 3 million cars to US roads—all so selected states can have their legal spliff. Crazy, right?
Weed has become the most energy-intensive crop in the country—and taking a look at the usage of a state-by-state basis proves this. According to a report from MassLive, the indoor cultivation of cannabis in the state of Massachusetts is responsible for a mind-blowing 10 per cent of the entire state’s industrial electricity usage. Likewise, in Colorado, studies have found cannabis farms to have a larger carbon footprint than its coal mines.
Now, compare this with states that have fully legalised both the sale and production of weed, which have better climates for outdoor production outside. The same paper by LBNL found that the production of weed in these states costs only 50 watts of electricity per square meter. That’s a 97.5 per cent reduction of the total energy consumption.
I can hear the critics already. If weed is such a costly blow to the planet, why legalise it in the first place? Why not crack down on growers instead of venturing down the capitalistic, corporate mass-production path? Well, there is an argument there but I find it better to look at the bigger picture.
As I briefly listed at the start of this article, there are numerous societal benefits for legalising the green stuff—both economically and ethically. Disregarding the benefits this can bring and the detrimental impact criminalising a plant can have on those in society, often who are the most vulnerable, would be grossly negligent. Likewise, partially legalising weed across only a number of states has shown, and is still showing, to have a harmful effect on our environment.
If the federal government allowed weed to be sold across state lines, outdoor weed farms in certain, more temperate states—that can cultivate the plant in significantly less energy-intensive ways—would be able to expand their offerings and sell to other states. Cannabis farmers would be able to post up in these particular states, where the weed grows easily and naturally, and be able to sell to the whole country—not limited by bureaucracy and legislation.
Legalisation on a federal government level would also bring in regulations for farmers to ensure the weed is being grown in an eco-friendly way. As it stands, states are creating their own laws to regulate weed farms—some effective, others, not so much. Illinois requires weed farmers to use energy-efficient LED lights but that’s only a drop in the ocean when you consider the giant warehouses having to be built to facilitate such farms.
It’s important to note that outdoor growing isn’t the ‘be all and end all’ solution to the damage weed farming has on the environment. After all, numerous reports have shown that weed farming requires a significant amount of water—and to make matters worse, weed grows best in the states where water is the most scarce.
That being said, it’s a step in the right direction and far more eco-friendly than the colossal indoor cannabis farms that are popping up across the US at the moment. So are you listening, Biden? Let’s legalise weed completely and enjoy the high without the high cost for our planet.