What is "a weed" slang for in 1962?
The term "weed" is slang for a tobacco cigarette in 1962. Although the setting of the novel The Outsiders takes place in the 1960's, much of the slang terms used throughout the novel are from the 1950's. In the 1950's, smoking tobacco became popular throughout America and cigarettes were referred to as "weed." It was commonplace for American teenagers to smoke cigarettes and race souped-up cars for fun, much like the greasers in S.E. Hinton's novel. In the following decade, the hippie movement and America's counter-culture revolution, which rejected societal norms, promoted widespread drug use. Marijuana became popular in the 1960's and Americans adopted the term "weed" to reference marijuana. Throughout the novel, Ponyboy and his gang mention smoking "a weed." In Chapter 4, Pony says, "Wish I had me a weed." Pony is referring to a rolled tobacco cigarette. In today's society, smoking marijuana is often referred to as "smoking weed." Notice the absence of the article "a" before weed. Slang terms and their definitions change with time, much like the cultures they reflect.
According to "The concise new Partridge dictionary of slang and unconventional English" the term weed was, in 1962, used for marijuana in general, for marijuana cigarettes, and for tobacco cigarettes.
To the best of my recollection, the term is being used to mean a tobacco cigarette rather than a marijuana cigarette in "The Outsiders." I say this because I can not remember there being any depictions of drug use in the book. But I suggest you look at the context to see if you can be sure since I don't have a copy of the book to look it up myself.