World Emoji Day is July 17, a global celebration of the small, digital icons that have replaced our words and infiltrated our hearts. Or 💕, if you will.
In recognition of these icons we use to communicate ideas, emotions, and messages through most digital life, the world celebrates these round, expressive faces and ideograms on July 17 with IRL events by using the hashtag #WorldEmojiDay on social media. Why July 17? That’s the date displayed on the calendar emoji, of course.
And while this most likely sounds fun and familiar to anyone with a smartphone or social media handle, there is an important item missing from entirety of emoji language: cannabis.
Why is there no weed emoji?? 🤔
— Jahn’quez Simmons (@Jahnquez) January 17, 2018
A Twitter user asking the big questions in life.
There are a total of 2,823 emoji as of June 2018 — none of them officially represent cannabis. “Why is there no weed emoji??”
Emoji use isn’t just on the rise, it’s become its own language. In 2015, Instagram found that 38 percent of comments made by U.S. users contained an emoji. On World Emoji Day 2017, Facebook said that an average of 5 billion emojis are sent each day on Facebook Messenger. The Oxford English Dictionary made the ‘face with tears of joy’ emoji 2015’s word of the year. Earlier this year, Keith Broni, the world’s first emoji translator, delivered a lecture on emoji interpretation at Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
So why isn’t there a weed emoji?
— kinkykurlykate (@kinkykurlykate2) April 20, 2018
The people have tweeted.
Some speculate the fault lies directly with Apple, but the group tasked with setting the global standards and deciding which icons make the final cut is a non-profit organization called the Unicode Consortium. The Unicode Consortium members are made up of a variety of representatives from many technology companies — Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter — with other members representing less predictable organizations, including the University of California, Berkeley, and the Indian government.
Anyone can submit proposals for new emoji characters to the Unicode Consortium by filling out a very detailed proposal. The members go through a very strict criteria for emoji selection that takes compatibility with other “high-use emoji in popular systems,” data that support high expected frequency, the distinctiveness of the image, whether the image fills a gap in the current lexicon, and whether the image has been requested a lot, into consideration. It excludes proposals that are:
- Too unique. Is the proposed character overly specific?
- Open-ended. Is it just one of many, with no special reason to favor it over others of that type?
- Already representable. Can the concept be represented by another emoji or sequence, even if the image is not exactly the same?
- Logos, brands, user interface Icons, signage, specific people, specific buildings, deities.
- Transient. Is the expected level of usage likely to continue into the future, or would it just be a fad?
- Faulty comparison. Are proposals being justified primarily by being similar to (or more important than) existing compatibility emoji?
- Exact images. Does the proposal request an exact image?
There is nothing that excludes certain types of plants, medicines, illicit drugs, or psychedelics.
Lauren Collister, the director of scholarly communication and publishing at University of Pittsburgh, said to the Chicago Tribune, “emoji is one way language is growing.” As emoji language continues to evolve, an omission isn’t only inconvenient, it’s significant.
In Unicode Consortium co-founder and president (and Google employee) Mark Davis’s own words: “Long after you and I are dust in the wind there will be a red wine emoji.”
Don’t worry, there are emojis you can use in place of a marijuana nug or weed leaf
And while this cultural and technological development in communication completely ignores cannabis, users have relied on their own creativity and the cannabis lexicon to find other emojis to communicate the use, desire or idea of weed.
- 🌲 Evergreen Tree: A tree type found in nature and stays green year round. Trees is used as a synonym for cannabis and even has its own subreddit that is the “go-to for anything and everything marijuana”
- 🔥 Fire: A small flame that is red, orange and yellow. Emojipedia says it can be used to describe something “being explary (lit, slang).” Fire is used to signify good — or lit — weed.
- 💨 Dashing Away: A gust of air that represents fast movement, or, if you smoke cannabis flower, then the resulting smoke.
- 🍁 Maple Leaf: A red, orange leaf associated with Canada through the maple leaf of their flag. The leaf also looks similar to the leaves on cannabis plants.
- 👌 OK Hand: A frequently used gesture to express approval, confirmation or satisfaction also happens to look like someone holding a joint.
As Apple’s support page instructing users how to use emojis on iPhones and iPads says, “you can bring words to life with emoji.” And while there may not be an icon of our favorite plant until the Unicode Consortium approves of one, you can still bring your weed words to life. 🌲🔥💨🍁👌