Marijuana and Racism

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

In last week’s post on smoking I used the word Marijuana to refer to Cannabis. I thought that they were synonyms and had no idea of the history of them.

A reader sent me this article from the Ottawa Citizen: Here’s why you shouldn’t use the word marijuana anymore

I did some quick research and found this interesting article from CBC: Weed, cannabis, pot or marijuana: what’s the difference?

In brief, Cannabis is the genus of the plant, or its scientific name. It’s the name that the government is using for the product.

Image from this article on the Stranger Magasine.

The word Marijuana however has a much different history. There are a lot of different theories as to where the name comes from but the word was popularized in English in the early 30’s America. The opponents to the drug used the “foreign” sounding word to scare people and eventually pass the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 which was the first step to making the drug illegal.

Apparently smoking cannabis wasn’t popular in the early 1900’s until refugees from the Mexican revolution brought it into the states. Because of this and the ever present racism, the word was associated with immigrants and used to fuel fear based politics. (so much has changed huh?)

The exact etymology is unknown. Here’s a list of theories:

  • A mash-up of the Spanish names Mary Jane (Marie Juane)
  • Bastardization of the herb Marjoram
  • From the Nahualt word, mallihuan, for Prisoner
  • From the Chinese, ma ren hua, or ‘hemp seed flower’

No matter where the word comes from, it’s a leftover racist term meant to encourage fear and we should stick to cannabis as the proper term.

Did you know any of this? Do you have any theories about the word?

Later Days,

Éric

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Dear Ottawa Smokers…

Dear Ottawa Smokers,

Marijuana is legal in Canada as of yesterday. That means there’s about to be a new thing that is legal to smoke.

As someone who has health issues with cigarette, cigar, cigarillo, vape, and marijuana smoke, I thought I’d take this time to remind Ottawa smokers of the laws, since some cigarette and vape smokers don’t seem to remember them.

Laws

  1. You can’t smoke in public places including parks, play structures, bars, restaurants, and patios. This includes Concert halls and festival grounds.
  2. You can’t smoke within 9 metres of province or city owned building entrance.
  3. You can’t smoke on public transit, transit property, or transit stops.
  4. You can’t smoke near or in schools. This includes post-secondary.
  5. You can’t smoke in hospitals and on hospital grounds.

Okay now that we’ve gone over the laws, I hope everyone will follow them and of course medical marijuana will have different rules and regulations.

Rules and laws are great, but as a person with severe allergies and scent sensitivities can I also ask that you do some of the following?

Courtesy

  1. Please smoke so the wind doesn’t blow it back on you. The smell is worse than body odour and shit combined, and will make me start coughing. No one wants to smell old Tobacco, pot, etc in the workplace or bus.
  2. Don’t smoke outside of restaurants or businesses. I want to get some groceries not cough up a lung.
  3. Go to a smoking area and smoke there. Don’t walk and smoke.
  4. If you HAVE to smoke and walk, please pay attention to the people around you. If there’s a parent and child around, or someone coughing, or on oxygen… make sure you’re not sending your smoke towards them.

 

Thank you to all the smokers that follow the laws and are courteous. I realize it’s a small minority that gives you all a bad name.

Éric

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