Suspicions over the true meaning of Peter, Paul, and Mary's "Puff, the Magic Dragon" — originally known simply as "Puff" — are understandable when you look at the lyrics and see that it is loaded with potential references to smoking grass ... though some are perhaps a little more far-fetched than others.
The most memorable lyrics of "Puff" are the first two lines of the refrain, which also opens the song: "Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea / And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee." Autumn mist could easily be interpreted as the second smoke reference in two lines, while several other descriptions of Puff and his adventures seem to suggest it really is about Mary Jane. For a start, it is also revealed that Puff is green — like cannabis — and that he plays in a place called Cherry Lane, which could be a reference to the "cherry" at the end of a lit cigarette. It was also speculated that Puff's friend, a little boy named Jackie Paper, symbolized rolling papers, and that Honalee — the nonexistent home of Puff and Jackie — was an alternate spelling of Hanalei, a Hawaiian village where marijuana was grown.
But while such theories spread into the public imagination and were even shared by letter in national newspapers such as The New York Times, the songwriters have been adamant that those who saw Puff as a cipher for pot smoking did so misguidedly.