There has been some debate since cannabis legalization began to rapidly spread across the US about retiring the term “marijuana” and replacing it with cannabis across the board. The reason is because the former is a racist term, while cannabis is the proper scientific name for the plant. Some are arguing that, yes we can acknowledge that marijuana is a racist term, but that does not mean that we should stop using it, because well, a lot of people know the plant by that name. This would not be good praxis; it’s time to get rid of the outdated term marijuana once and for all.
A Brief History of the Term Marijuana
The term “marijuana” was first used by indigenous Mexicans when European conquerors first came to Mexico. The indigenous people were forced to stop growing things like peyote and psilocybin and were instead ordered to grow hemp for European interests. It was with this that the indigenous Mexicans discovered the psychoactive properties of the cannabis plant. They began to refer to it as “marihuana.”
The term then came into popular use by members of the US government who were hoping to cause a scare over the cannabis plant. This was a successful maneuver and it helped to demonize the cannabis plant, which at the time was a very popular remedy, present in most Americans’ medicine cabinets. By linking the cannabis plant with immigrants, the case for criminalizing cannabis was made and unfortunately was successful.
Why We Should Retire “Marijuana”
While the origin of the term was not racist, it was made into a racist pejorative term, hence why we should not continue to use it. Using the term denotes a distaste for cannabis and disdain for those who use it. This is why you hear people like Jeff Sessions use the term. It is commonly understood that those who use the term “cannabis” are more likely those who are not opposed to legalization.
The term cannabis is far more scientific and clinical sounding, indicating that above all else, cannabis is a medicine. Even those who use cannabis for recreational purposes are likely using it for a medical reason, such as to cope with conditions like social anxiety. In order for more people to accept cannabis as a plant with medicinal value, we should probably start referring to it in more scientific terms.
Now, I know that terms like weed, reefer, ganja, dank, etc., are not going to leave the lexicon and I don’t want them to. I’m not going to suggest to my friends that it’s time to smoke some cannabis; I’m going to say “hey let’s smoke a bowl,” or “you got any good ganj?” Terms like marijuana with their racial connotations do not have a place in my vocabulary. Of course, you can use whatever term you choose, but if you call it “marijuana” people are probably going to think you’re a cop. I’m not going to use the term anymore; I suggest you do the same
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Do you still use the term “marijuana”? Do you think it should be retired? Tell us in the comments!