Do We Say Marijuana Or Cannabis? A Bit Of History

Ever pondered why the cannabis plant, thriving globally under various monikers, stirs debate when called “marijuana” in the U.S.? Some see it as a term steeped in racial undertones, but let’s delve deeper to grasp the full story.

The Roots of the Name Game

Before the 20th century, Americans knew cannabis only by its scientific name. The term “marijuana,” unfamiliar then, became a tool for political and racial propaganda. It’s not the word itself that’s the issue; it’s the connotations attached to it by influential figures and events shaping public perception.

Key players in this narrative included Harry Anslinger, the first director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and pivotal moments like the Mexican Civil War and the Great Depression.

The Mexican Civil War and the Introduction of “Marijuana” to America

With the influx of Mexican immigrants post the Mexican Civil War, the U.S. saw the introduction of smoking cannabis. The media sensationalized its use among minorities, painting a picture of madness and violence – a stark contrast to the elite white Americans who consumed cannabis in other forms.

Anslinger’s role in popularizing the term “marijuana” is crucial. He used the foreign-sounding word to associate cannabis with “degenerates of lower races,” fueling xenophobia and setting the stage for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 and Nixon’s Controlled Substances Act in 1970.

From Propaganda to Legislation

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, driven by Anslinger’s campaign, didn’t outlaw marijuana but regulated it so stringently that it became nearly impossible to use legally. This move was less about the plant and more about the people associated with it.

Nixon’s 1970 act further entrenched marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled drug, not based on scientific evidence but as a political maneuver targeting specific communities.

Racial Disparities in Marijuana Enforcement

Fast forward to today, the racial disparity in marijuana arrests remains stark. Despite similar usage rates across races, Black and Brown people are disproportionately targeted and arrested. This disparity persists even in states with legalized or decriminalized marijuana.

What’s In a Name: Marijuana or Cannabis?

The debate over terminology is complex. While some advocate for “cannabis” as a more professional, scientific term, others argue that abandoning “marijuana” erases its fraught history and the communities most impacted.

The question remains: Do we continue using “marijuana,” a term rooted in racial propaganda, or switch to “cannabis” to start a new chapter? It’s a nuanced debate, reflecting the plant’s complex relationship with society.

Conclusion: A Continuing Conversation

Whether we say “marijuana” or “cannabis,” the discussion is more than semantic. It’s about acknowledging history, understanding the impact of words, and striving for a future where the cannabis industry is inclusive and respectful of all communities.

If you’ve got thoughts or questions on this topic, or need assistance navigating the cannabis industry’s intricacies, feel free to reach out. Let’s continue the conversation and work towards a better understanding together.

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