Words are powerful tools. They can spark a revolution or stop one in its tracks. They can villainize or sanctify an object. For this reason, it is important to choose your words carefully, especially when dealing with a hot-button issue like cannabis legalization.
When referring to the plant at the center of this issue, there are many options for word choice. You can call it Mary Jane, reefer, pot, weed, marijuana, cannabis, or one of many other options often thrown about.
Most people realize that Mary Jane, pot and weed are all slang terms and should not be used by anyone who is trying to be taken seriously or advance the cause of legalization.
But what about marijuana and cannabis?
The term “marijuana” became popular in the US in the 1930s. During this time, newspapers and their owners used their power to spread propaganda and fear about cannabis. Rumors were circulated that linked marijuana to violent behavior, after all, sensational news sold papers. Because of this, the term “marijuana” is an emotional and derogatory word. Additionally, “marijuana” typically only refers to the dried bud.
“Cannabis” however is the term embraced by activists and anyone actively trying to change the perception of cannabis. It is a scientific term that encompases many uses of the plant. It is free of the negative associates the word “marijuana” carries and allows people to have a conversation about legalization without being written off as “just another stoner.”
As you can see, “marijuana” is a loaded term, full of years of propoganda and backlash that make it difficult for people to listen to what you are saying. By changing the way we speak about cannabis and making small word changes, we are able to encourage people to listen and start a discussion about the benefits of legalized cannabis.
Join us, and many others in this revolution. Show you are serious about affecting change. Say, “Cannabis,” not “Marijuana.”