Marijuana

DEA's Emoji Drug Guide Made Us Realize How Bad Weed Emojis Are

DEA's Emoji Drug Guide Made Us Realize How Bad Weed Emojis Are
Drug Enforcement Administration
The DEA is hip to your emoji weed talk, so watch out.

With the help of federal investigators, the Drug Enforcement Administration has compiled a list of emojis that reflect common examples of drugs. The majority of the guide focuses on emojis that the DEA believes represent prescription drugs like Adderall, oxycodone and Percocet. Symbols for heroin, meth and "mollies" are also included. The one for mushrooms seems pretty self-explanatory when you look through the emoji keyboard on your phone and see this: 🍄

Some highlights of the DEA's emoji guide include a blowfish for cocaine, a chocolate chip cookie representing a "large batch" of anything, and a red maple leaf symbolizing any and all drugs (sorry, Canada), but most of the emojis seem close enough. You know, based on what other people have told us...

Outside of a palm tree, most of the cannabis-related emojis — a smoke cloud, a flame, a Christmas tree and a shamrock — are common enough for pot talk, even if the DEA missed a few. If anything, we were disappointed by the accuracy (especially when you look at the DEA's guide on cannabis street slang from a few years ago), which only reminded us of the lack of choices that cannabis users have in the emoji section.

What's it going to take to get an icon of a joint, bong or simple marijuana leaf on the keyboard? Some of the yellow-face emojis come close to the Mr. Nice Guy's smiley face logo in Half Baked, but none of them are spot-on.

Seriously, though. Maybe it's time. Not only are our current code emojis no longer cool now that the feds know about them, but this is just another example of marijuana mistreatment. Beer mugs, champagne, wine, martinis, whiskey and tropical cocktails all have emojis. We also have emojis representing cigarettes, gambling, middle fingers and freakin' poop. And we love them all! Just give us a Cheech, Chong or Snoop Dogg emoji, too.

Our sudden call for potmojis led to an important question: Who controls emojis, anyway?

Turns out that the Unicode Consortium, a tech nonprofit in Silicon Valley, is responsible for creating and regulating thousands of keyboard characters in multiple languages, including emojis. Unicode actually accepts user submissions for emojis, and according to a 2021 article from GreenState, a handful of cannabis-centric emojis have been submitted over the years.

These submissions take a lot more time and work than filling out a contact box, however, and all six cannabis submissions so far have been rejected. One of the reasons cited by Unicode for a cannabis leaf emoji rejection was that it was too close to other leaf emojis.

Unicode's tough standards aren't the only obstacles that proposed potmojis face, as major phone software providers Apple and Google have both taken stances against apps and emojis that peddle illegal substances.

Hemp isn't illegal anymore, though, and the two leaves look pretty similar. Almost the same, some might say.
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Herbert Fuego is the resident stoner at Westword, ready to answer all your marijuana questions.
Contact: Herbert Fuego