Monday, May 23, 2011

Why Pot Supporters Shouldn't Use The Term "Marijuana"

This is a belief I've held for a while, although obviously I often slip and use the more common term. Unfortunately, I can't remember what I read that first provided me with this information, so I had to re-research everything to make sure my facts are straight. Most of it was gleaned from this article.

Hemp was the major staple of George Washington's garden. Hemp was sold in American pharmacies. Hemp was required to be grown by colonial farmers. So why, now that it's illegal, is it referred to as marijuana? The term marijuana has a short history in America, filled with racism and political intrigue.

Although the middle east has a history of hashish use, hemp wasn't really smoked recreationally in America until Mexican immigrants brought the practice with them into the western states around the 1930s. California was the first to ban the "preparation" of hemp, after Mexicans were observed doing it, and many western states followed. This was happening right at the time of the prohibition of alcohol, and the government was testing how far it could go banning mind-altering substances. Apparently, it found that it could go quite far.

Not okay.
In the east, the racism was directed at the black Jazz musicians. Their weed-smoking habits formed a central part of their musical sub-culture. Since they were seen as immoral and dangerous, this terrified the populace. Henry Anslinger, the rightly-reviled crusader against weed and the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, is alleged to have made many racist statements, including “…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races" and “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” No matter what the time period, these are not appropriate statements for a public figure to make.

Rumors began circulating linking marijuana use to murder and violent behavior, but it was obviously unfounded speculation based on the fear of other races. For example, newspaper tycoon William Randoph Hearst writes, "“Was it marijuana, the new Mexican drug, that nerved the murderous arm of Clara Phillips when she hammered out her victim’s life in Los Angeles?… THREE-FOURTHS OF THE CRIMES of violence in this country today are committed by DOPE SLAVES — that is a matter of cold record.” It's important to note that Hearst had much to gain, since the sensationalism sold newspapers and the use of wood-based paper over hemp-based assured him profits from his investments.

As soon as hemp was in non-white hands, it was labeled with the exotic term "marijuana," which the layman did not know was the same plant. William C. Woodward, of the American Medical Association, cited this as a reason to reject the bill proposing its prohibition. In the article I linked to above, the author writes,
"At this point, marijuana (or marihuana) was a sensationalist word used to refer to Mexicans smoking a drug and had not been connected in most people’s minds to the existing cannabis/hemp plant. Thus, many who had legitimate reasons to oppose the bill weren’t even aware of it."
Unfortunately, he was ignored and the bill was passed.

Though the term marijuana has lost its racist connotations for the most part, its history is largely ignored. It's important for weed smokers (just like anybody) to realize the implications of the terms that they use, and choose one that fits what they mean. In my opinion, "hemp" is the best term because of its historical use and its harmless connotations, but "weed" and "pot," though vague, are a little less formal and work just as well.
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22 comments:

  1. Really great stuff. I new the history of hemp but I never new that the term "marijuana" came up that way. More people need to know this, and ESPECIALLY the stupid, racist history that led to the legal status of weed today.

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  2. I personally use "cannabis"; it's more scientific and doesn't conjure the historically and socially negative connotations attached to pot, weed and marijuana. Such as: "pot-head" or "weed-head".

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  3. I agree with Anonymous that even words like "pot" and "weed" seem to have received negative connotations amongst society at large. I think something like Ganja-human-helper, or some new sophisticated term must be invented to highlight the fact that it is a lovely healing medicine for human beings.

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  4. There is a difference between hemp and pot. You don't smoke hemp.

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    1. Yes, it is, it's the same plant. The part you smoke is not the same part that is put to use in rope and other products, but it is certainly the same thing.

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    2. Joel, I'm afraid it's not the same plant. It's the same species, but not the same subspecies.

      http://host.madison.com/what-s-the-difference-between-hemp-and-marijuana/article_fb7c0968-3122-11df-a8de-001cc4c03286.html

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    3. And a pot is something you use to cook in...

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  5. I also use the word "cannabis"... agreeing with Anonymous...One of my pet peeves is that when you watch the documentaries on History, NatGeo, etc... they always have to show the smoke surrounding the person... large amounts being inhaled, etc... So, any one watching and maybe learning... has the typical stoner scenes mixed with all the educational material.

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  6. The word entered into English usage in the late 19th century. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first known appearance of a form of the word in that language is in Hubert Howe Bancroft's 1873 The Native Races of the Pacific States of North America.[1] Other early variants include marihuma first recorded in 1905, marihuano in 1912, and marahuana in 1914.[6] Through the early 20th century, however, both the drug and the plant were more commonly known as "cannabis" or "hemp". "Marihuana"'s currency in American English increased dramatically in the 1930s, when it was preferred as an exotic-sounding alternative name during the debates of the drug's use.[1] It has been suggested that it was promoted by opponents of the drug, who wanted to stigmatize it with a "foreign-sounding name" FACTS ARE A BITCH EH... THEY CAN BE USED TO RUIN ANY POLITICAL CORRECT CRAP. MAARIJAUNA MARIJAUNA MARIJAUNA I SMOKE IT I LOVE ITS NAME AND I WONT BE PC ABOUT IT CAUSE YOU WROTE AN INACCURATE BLOG. next time fact check your PC barf.

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    1. ...Isn't that exactly what I said? "Opponents of the drug wanted to stigmatize it with a foreign-sounding name." Because they were racist.

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  7. ^ lol you got that straight from wiki. Actually if you'd take the time to find a legit source, you'd know that's wrong. Variations of the word entered into civilization in 1894, that word is mariguan. Which people still debate about if it was actually cannabis or not. There was a few variations of the word until the 1930's, then they stuck with marihuana because that's what Mexican immigrants called it. Then it Americanized into marijuana. However, prior to this point hemp and cannabis were the proper terms in America. These words were thrown out, and replaced with marijuana. So you may love to smoke, but everytime you call cannabis marijuana your disrespecting it. It's like calling a black person a nigger. You don't truly love/respect cannabis if you call it marijuana, and don't even deserve to smoke it.

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  8. That's stupid. You deserve to smoke more, because of your fascist nature. The legal name in Michigan is marihuana. We propose legalizing it. www.repealtoday.org

    By the way, I'm from Detroit, and cannabis isn't in my vocabulary. Do I have to call pop a soda too brainiac?

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    1. I guess I'm a fascist for educating people. Sorry brah.

      This is not a regional difference. The entire history of drug prohibition is racist, and drug arrests continue to be extremely biased against people of color. If everyone involved realizes this, we can work together to get the government to treat everyone justly. It's just another reason to legalize.

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    2. David I know its been a few years but if you are still in the dark on the subject the technical names are cannabis indica and cannabis sativa. All other forms are slang. Some carry no negative stigma, but other slang forms of the word have a very negative relationship to the plant.

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  9. holy shit! really? your going to get that peeved about somebody actually being right ? Calling cannabis "marijuana" does put a negative spin on the plant.When the plant is called cannabis or hemp people don't think of it in a negative way, they think of all the things the plant can be used as!

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  10. No matter what it is called, until the federal government is not owned by corporations like big pharma and the health insurance industry, we will see no changes. It is going to take ALL of us not just a few to fight this. Many of us have already stepped up to the plate - it is not easy to be politically aware and active because our political scene is really disgusting and there is nothing in it that will help us, only to assist corporations become richer. The government is ignoring the brand new businesses hemp would create - hemp, cannabis, it should be legal as it used to be. However, the first step is to get lobbyists and money out of politics, or for pro cannabis lobbyists to stuff politicians pockets with more money than big pharma and insurance companies. Wake up, this is the reason it is not legal - that and the fact that it opens our minds and helps us advance to a higher level of consciousness so we see things as they really are. This and the profit the are making will make them do us great harm if not kill us as they see fit. Get your friends interested in this. Encourage them to at least vote locally for folks that support our right to this beautiful herb. Here in Oregon where I live, medical cannabis is legal if one is a qualified patient. The department is run by the Attorney General's office. The AG leaving is very conservative and would get rid of the program if he could so instead he has approved raids etc. etc. He is leaving office soon and running to replace him are 2 Democrats, which to many people makes them think their vote is not important because both are Democrats - the devil is in the details. The gentleman running is our former AG's best friend and wants even tighter restrictions, and the lady opposing is a friend to our program. Just yesterday I was able to educate 2 people who will tell others because they did not know and maybe would not even have voted, both folks are patients like me. This is where it must begin, in my humble opinion. Peace to all.

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  11. "hemp wasn't really smoked recreationally in America until Mexican immigrants brought the practice with them into the western states around the 1930s. California was the first to ban the "preparation" of hemp, after Mexicans were observed doing it, and many western states followed."

    Mexicans AND Cannabis were present in "the western states" before the land was taken from Mexico, this bit of important history seems to be ignored from most historical articles. The fact that California (as an American state) made it illegal was in part, a move to remove as much of the culture that was already here; it was an attempt at Ethnic Cleansing (therefore using a derogatory "Mexican" name to label this plant).

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  12. You white people are funny with your guilt.

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  13. Since cannabis is the scientific name for the plant and I actually want to be taken seriously by those who oppose us I will continue to call it cannabis. Thank you for posting this.

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  14. Really?! Now political correctness has infected the "marijuana" realm? Give me a break. If the PC police want to investigate the origin and history of every word, they are going to be a very busy bunch. At the end of their witch hunt, what words will be safely allowed to use? The whole concept of political correctness is built on the foundation that individuals should somehow feel guilty about being born into their skin or circumstance, which is of course completely ridiculous.

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    1. I would beg to differ, I'm not the PC police but I do believe that by using an appropriate vocabulary you will be taken more seriously by other intelligent people. You ever watch Judge Judy? Who do you think would do better, the defendant that comes off as an intelligent and articulate member of society by using a strong vocabulary, or do you think the kid using slang words and a limited vocabulary would do better?

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  15. In scientific terms, the correct word is Cannabis and not "Marijuana". Sativa is simply Latin for 'cultivated': as in Cannabis sativa (L). Using the terms marijuana, pot, marihuana or even hemp obscures the reality and taxonomical origins of the species. Artificial divisions are created and thus maintained by the Ministry of Truth.

    How often do we see in the mainstream media, "Hemp is a cousin to marijuana." This is nonsense and it is deliberate deception.

    Robert Connell Clarke, author of Marijuana Botany, one of the world's leading scientific authorities, has been doing genetic profiling to determine where the species originated. Appears that two genetic groups, one in SE Asia and the other in the Mediterranean region are responsible for the spread of cannabis throughout human civilizations after the last ice age. This means that people carried the plant around the entire planet. After all, it's been around for 32 million years. Long before humans appeared. It will be here long after we are gone.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabaceae

    http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Medicinal-Cannabis-Infused-Olive-Oil#

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