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

Please follow and like us:
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial