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Canna Lexicon: Call it Cannabis!

Cannabis > Marijuana

This week, we will be discussing a word we would like to see used far less frequently in the weed lexicon. That word is marijuana, and many are not aware of the controversial, storied history of the term. We’re here to share why we prefer to hear it called cannabis.

The word ‘marijuana’ (also spelled marihuana in some instances) came to the United States in 1910, brought by refugees of the Mexican Revolution. It entered the vocabulary of US citizens by way of Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Narcotics Bureau and the chief proponent of cannabis prohibition, later down the road in 1937.  Anslinger used the word with intent – because it sounded foreign, playing into the fears of Americans who were not racially tolerant, and scare tactics frequently work. He was quoted as saying:

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.”

 At the time, the word marijuana was only used in reference to discouraging recreational use, while the monikers cannabis and hemp were used in reference to the medical and industrial applications. Anslinger’s “scare campaign” made marijuana a household word, and applied to that word the negative connotations and stigmas that cannabis users still fight to remove today.

Who needs to call it marijuana anyway?! There are just about a bazillion other words we can use instead: cannabis, weed, grass, ganja, buds, nugs, tea, herb, flower, green, skunk, piff, chronic, reefer, the dankity dank, Mary Jane, pot, purps, trees, fire, and – perhaps most importantly – KIND!

We are happy to see our growing industry slowly modernize by removing words/phrases with negative or racially-charged histories and connotations. We believe it is beyond important to reclassify the way cannabis is discussed because in the past it was generally only talked about by those who opposed it. By being ambassadors for and advocates of the plant we love, we try to do our part to prove that cannabis use does not make someone a bad person – and that tolerance & open-mindedness can take the world a very long way.