Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Malamute

The Word "marijuana" Vs The Word "cannabis"

Recommended Posts

The Word "Marijuana" Versus the Word "Cannabis"

 

And Why I'm Going to Stop Using the Former in This Column

 

http://www.thestranger.com/news/2016/04/13/23948555/the-word-marijuana-versus-the-word-cannabis

 

 

Why do we call marijuana marijuana? Growing up, I assumed that "marijuana" was the original Latin name for the plant I discuss every week in this column. But that's not the case.

 

Cannabis is its actual name. Cannabis is the genus that contains the three psychoactive plants we love so well: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and their stubby cousin Cannabis ruderalis. However, cannabis is far more commonly referred to as marijuana. Why?

 

The term "marijuana" came to the United States via Mexico. How it came to Mexico is still a mystery. Scholar Alan Piper made a valiant attempt at its etymology in a 2005 issue of the academic journal Sino-Platonic Papers, but came to the conclusion that it could have come from China, or maybe Spain, or maybe it was already in North America.

 

"Of all the multifarious terms associated with the cannabis plant," he wrote, "marihuana is one of the most universally recognized and used in the English-speaking world, yet its origins remain deeply obscure." He goes on to say, "The word marijuana, together with the use of herbal cannabis as an intoxicant, is consistently identified as coming into the USA from Mexico, being brought there by migrant workers."

 

That key phrase—"the use of herbal cannabis as an intoxicant"—could explain why we still call cannabis marijuana today.

In 1930, Harry Anslinger, the head of the brand-new Federal Bureau of Narcotics, was unsatisfied with regulating only cocaine and opium. When he went in front of a congressional panel in 1937 to push his pot prohibition bill, he said, "We seem to have adopted the Mexican terminology, and we call it marihuana."

 

While he sounds all innocent there, like he just picked up the word from who knows where, many surmise that he was actively using the term to focus the discussion on recreational use. His terminology distanced the plant as much as possible from its common medical and industrial uses, where it was more often referred to as cannabis or hemp. Using "marijuana," most commonly associated with recreational use among poor Mexican immigrants, was a sneaky bit of branding for the bill he wanted passed.

 

Dr. William C. Woodward, legislative counsel of the American Medical Association, showed up to the same 1937 hearing to protest Anslinger's feigned semantic innocence, accusing him of switching the name to fool groups that would have otherwise been opposed to the bill.

 

"I use the word 'cannabis' in preference to the word 'marihuana,' because cannabis is the correct term for describing the plant and its products," Woodward said. "It was the use of the term 'marihuana' rather than the use of the term 'cannabis' or the use of the term 'Indian hemp' that was responsible, as you realized, probably, a day or two ago, for the failure of the dealers in Indian hempseed to connect up this bill with their business until rather late in the day."

 

As an example of the racial dimension of Anslinger's animus toward cannabis, here's one of his quotes on the subject: "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," he said. "This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others."

 

William Randolph Hearst was also happy to lend his newspaper empire to the cause of pot prohibition, printing such inflammatory moo poo in nationally syndicated columns as: "Was it marijuana, the new Mexican drug, that nerved the murderous arm of Clara Phillips when she hammered out her victim's life in Los Angeles?... Three-fourths of the crimes of violence in this country today are committed by dope slaves—that is a matter of cold record."

 

This use of the term represents a marked linguistic shift. As NPR reported in 2013, "Throughout the 19th century, news reports and medical journal articles almost always use the plant's formal name, cannabis."

 

No matter how you slice it, the rise of the term marijuana is suspiciously contemporaneous with its popularity in racist screeds. To that end, I'm going to stop using the word "marijuana" in this column, except in proper names, quotations, or where it is part of the seemingly inseparable alliterative pairing "medical marijuana" (after all, "medical marijuana" has specific regulatory policy attached to it).

While the word doesn't carry the same racist connotations it once did, I see no reason to use it when "cannabis" or "pot" or "weed" work fine. And I'm not alone.

 

Harborside Health Center, one of California's largest and most influential dispensaries, has a page on its website devoted to the issue.

"The word 'marijuana' or 'marihuana' is an emotional, pejorative term that has played a key role in creating the negative stigma that still tragically clings to this holistic, herbal medicine," it reads. "Most cannabis users recognize the 'M word' as offensive, once they learn its history. We prefer to use the word cannabis, because it is a respectful, scientific term that encompasses all the many different uses of the plant."

 

I asked an expert on the subject—someone who runs a socially conscious (and sadly illegal) cannabis delivery service—what they thought. "We are very vocally against that word and fully support whatever action you choose to take against its use," they said. "It's 100 percent racist terminology

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is considerable speculation about the origin of the word, however in this country it definitley has a pejorative side to it as noted by Harborside HC in the op.
 

According to this source from the Shaffer Library of Drug Policy:

 

The earliest record of man's use of cannabis comes from the island of Taiwan located off the coast of mainland China. In this densely populated part of the world, archaeologists have unearthed an ancient village site dating back over 10,000 years to the Stone Age.

嘛  Ma, the Chinese word for hemp, is composed of two symbols which are meant to depict hemp. The part beneath and to the right of the straight lines represent hemp fibers dangling from a rack. The horizontal and vertical lines represent the home in which they were drying.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I stopped using the word marijuana/ marihuana years ago except in instances described by the author.

I do occasionally get that 'hu?' look from people and that is when I explain that the scientific name for the

plant is cannabis, it has been erroneously called marijuana... and (if they are open to it), I explain how the

word marijuana was birthed as a negative in the good ole USA.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's Why We Should Probably Say 'Cannabis' Instead of 'Marijuana'

 

Weed, pot, ganja, bud, herb, grass, green, dank, Cali, Dutchie, hippie lettuce, Mary Jane. That sticky-icky-icky herb goes by many different names, but the most common is of course, “marijuana.” Why is that, when the plant’s official Latin name is actually “cannabis?”

 

 

 

http://www.alternet.org/drugs/word-marijuana-has-ugly-history

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember when LEO and DRE were referring to it as ‘dope’ during my encounter. Dope is commonly used as a reference to narcotic drugs like heroin, which cannabis does not fit the description of. I guess the individuals in charge of enforcing drug laws don’t know the correct classifications, which is another problem with the DRE system.

I myself stick to ‘cannabis’ or ‘cannabinoids’, because that’s what the correct term is. If I go on Wikipedia and type 'marijuana' or 'marihuana' what do I get? An article titled ‘Cannabis’!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember when LEO and DRE were referring to it as ‘dope’ during my encounter. Dope is commonly used as a reference to narcotic drugs like heroin, which cannabis does not fit the description of. I guess the individuals in charge of enforcing drug laws don’t know the correct classifications, which is another problem with the DRE system.

 

I myself stick to ‘cannabis’ or ‘cannabinoids’, because that’s what the correct term is. If I go on Wikipedia and type 'marijuana' or 'marihuana' what do I get? An article titled ‘Cannabis’!

 

I believe this was actually one of there more successful subliminal tactics to include all these substances under the former pejorative term (dope), thereby alluding that cannabis has the same or similar negative characteristics. As well as enhancing their perceived importance as providing a benefit to society. 

 

Funny how 'dope' now has become an adjective with a very positive meaning in the current/younger cultural vernacular. As in da chit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe this was actually one of there more successful subliminal tactics to include all these substances under the former pejorative term (dope), thereby alluding that cannabis has the same or similar negative characteristics. As well as enhancing their perceived importance as providing a benefit to society. 

 

Funny how 'dope' now has become an adjective with a very positive meaning in the current/younger cultural vernacular. As in da chit.

 

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Dope

 

Top Definition
 
Dope
 
People who do not do drugs call Marajuanna Dope.

People who do Marajuanna call Heroin Dope.

Word has also been used to describe how good somthing is.

Don't you be somkin' dope! (AKA Marajuanna )

 

OMG, I smoke the green but I don't do dope ( AKA Heroin )

 

Man that car is dope!

 

(Their spelling here sure isn't "dope" haha)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...