Why advocates say it’s “cannabis,” not “marijuana”

May 9, 2017

You may have noticed a shift recently away from the use of “marijuana” in the news and on our podcast. More and more, you’ll find yourself hearing “cannabis” instead. And there’s good reason for that.

The term “marijuana” is a word loaded with all kinds of negative connotations, the Goldwaters’ recent guest Adam Greenblatt said on The Goldwaters podcast. Greenblatt, the Head of Quebec Engagement at Tweed Inc., explained to the family the negative connotations that come along with the word.

“ ‘Marijuana’ is a pejorative term, that harkens back to the days when we would target minorities,” Greenblatt said. “Cannabis prohibition is inherently racist and xenophobic, as evidenced by the word ‘marijuana,’ which was used to distinguish the hemp crops that everyone growing back in 1920 and 1930, when we prohibited the substance.”

“Cannabis,” on the other hand, is the scientific name for the plant. The word can be traced back as far as 450 BCE, used in the Greek histories of Herodotus. Where “marijuana” only begins to appear late in the 19th century, before being popularized in the drug prohibition wave of the 1930s.

So, next time you’re in conversation and the word “marijuana” comes up, it’s worth remember the negative baggage it brings along.

For more from the conversation between the Goldwaters and Greenblatt, listen to the most recent episode of the podcast Tough Questions on Cannabis Legalization with Adam Greenblatt.

You can subscribe to more episodes with iTunes, or RSS for wherever you find your podcasts.

PHOTO BY: Mario Antonio Pena Zapatería/Flickr



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