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Which is correct – Cannabis or Marijuana?

Which is correct – Cannabis or Marijuana?

Should we call it marijuana or cannabis

There are a lot of names used on the street indicating marijuana or cannabis but which of the two should be used? Should we call it marijuana or cannabis? This article explains in-depth which term should be used to properly address the question.

The Word “Marijuana” Versus the Word “Cannabis”

          Marijuana or cannabis is one of the highest and widely consumed substances in the world along with alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. At least 1,200 street words for marijuana and 2,300 names for individual strains. 420, Ganja, and Mary Jane are few of the top slang words that the United States of America and Canada use as a synonym. As frequently interchangeably used, should we call it marijuana or cannabis?

Cannabis in Science

          Heightening perception, affecting mood and relaxing is one of the pleasant experiences that people who take marijuana or cannabis get. The substance responsible for these is called THC which is short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. It is the main active ingredient that is used in products being marketed all over the world.

          Wild in many tropical and temperate areas of the world, the plant genus Cannabis L. is where THC is only currently found and is primarily produced in the leaves and buds of the female plant. Cannabis is the scientific name of the plants that produce THC and is described with the species Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica.

          Growers dry their cannabis plants in various ways. If the plant is too big, they start cutting off the branches and hang them like a washing line. Also to dry properly, they trim their plants and remove the leaves. This method adds aesthetic to the end product during the drying process.

          Dried parts of Cannabis, such as the stem, leaves, flowers and seeds, that are usually in color green, brown and gray mixture which is collectively known as marijuana.

Marijuana: History and its Negative Connotation – Racism

Should we call it marijuana or cannabis? We have to take a look at the history to answer this question.

Before 1900s the immigration levels from Mexico were extremely low but the United States of America turned to Mexico as the primary source of cheap labor. Taking the Mexicans under their welfare programs generated a high immigration rate and into the US, they brought their tradition of smoking marijuana.

Then the Great Depression happened from 1920s to 1930s. Unemployment had risen, wages were low and the agricultural sector was struggling due to the drought. Time passed by and the Depression deepened through the years and the Americans started looking for someone to blame.

Marijuana, coming from the Mexican-Spanish root term “marihuana”, sounded so foregin during the devastating years that government authorities were determined that the expense would be less to return Mexicans back to their motherland rather than keeping them on the US welfare program.

Police officers from the South started claiming that marijuana aroused a “bloodlust” and gave its users “superhuman strength” then rumors started to spread that Mexicans were distributing “killer weed’” to unsuspecting American children. Around this time, the US politicians quickly jumped into the opportunity to label “marihuana” with a bad reputation that newspapers started calling the use as “marijuana menace”. Using the “evils of the drug” thought, made American hostility toward Mexicans grow and it became a foundation for the removal of the Mexicans will be much more acceptable.

          William Dill, from the Hoover administration, had huge ambitions of becoming a president that he instituted a program of deportations. The United States of America had country agents that pressured Mexicans by knocking on their doors saying that they are better off in Mexico, where they will be with their own people, and be able to speak their language. Some would scare individuals who were working limited hours on how long they could keep their job. There were trains and buses organized from across the country to ship Mexicans.

Aside from William Dill, another keyplayer known is Harry J. Anslinger. Former railroad cop and Prohibition agent, waged a three decade long campaign against cannabis in the 1930s when he stood as the director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men, the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the generate races”, Harry Anslinger once said. “… most are Negroes, Filipinos, Hispanics and people in the entertainment industry. Their Satanic jazz, swing and music result from marijuana use.”

This political and racial move greatly associated marijuana to “wrongdoings”, creating a stigma that still plays a big part in the legalizing efforts of cannabis.

Marijuana in the 21st Century

Out of 195 countries in the world today, only 16 countries have legalized the use of cannabis. Uruguay was the first country to fully legalize recreational cannabis last 2013. Following Uruguay is Canada in 2018, legalizing the possession and use of recreational marijuana.

          Health Canada, a federal department of the government of Canada who is responsible for maintaining national public health has regulated medical marijuana since 2001 and in 2016, their new set of rules entitled Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations stopped using the word marijuana.

          Tammy Jarbeau, a Health Canada spokesperson, said that cannabis is the preferred term because “cannabis includes more products than marijuana..”

          Cathy Rogers, New Brunswick Finance Minister, said that marijuana “has a derogatory history and “pot” has a street connotation. Cannabis is the best word.”

          Paul Bradley, New Brunswick provincial health department spokesman, said “We are using the word “cannabis’’ in our government’s recent five bills because all they refer to the definition of cannabis in the federal Cannabis Act.”

          Under Canada’s Cannabis Act Schedule 1, “cannabis” is defined as “any part of a cannabis plant, including the phytocannabinoids produced by, or found in, such a plant, regardless of whether that part has been processed or not, other than a part of plant…”

Globally,most federal legislations, producers, dispensaries and sellers are gravitating toward “cannabis” as the preferred term. So cannabis is the right answer to the question should we call it marijuana or cannabis?


          The old and frequent use of interchanging the words “marijuana” and “cannabis” will still continue in the future because it will be a challenge to push out or remove the usage or the term “marijuana” because of its familiarity to the layman’s terminology. You have the moral authority to decide if the term “marijuana” is a derogatory word in mind of its dark past.


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