If you have a keen eye and are a frequent consumer of our media, you might have noticed that we never use the term “marijuana,” only “cannabis” or “flower.” Hang around the industry long enough and you’ll realize that this is a growing trend for several reasons.
We think our friends at Smoke Reports said it best: “Cannabis deserves a better conversation. A better conversation requires a common language.”
Smoke Reports, a definitive source for strain and dispensary data, has published a series of white papers on the intersection of cannabis business and culture, written by Jay Healy. The first installment detailed the linguistic history of cannabis and hemp prohibition efforts in the United States during the late 1920s and 1930s.
“Marihuana” was originally used as a racialized term to describe the cigarettes that migrant workers would toke at the end of the day. The term was first popularized by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in order to back up prohibitionist efforts by heightening the fear and racism of the masses. It was because of this connotation that cannabis prohibition became the law of the land with little opposition.
By creating a slang term that played on the social disparities of the time, the FBN was able to transform the familiar, highly useful and therapeutic cannabis plant into a scary, dangerously mind-altering drug called “marijuana” that no one knew anything about. Think about it: isn’t that what many are doing by continuing to use prohibition-era slang in the context of the modern cannabis movement?
Craft brewers don’t use the terms “brewski” or “suds” to refer to their products – they go about it with an air of seriousness and professionalism. Why can’t it be the same for cannabis? Every time it is referred to as “pot,” “marijuana” or “weed,” essentially what’s happening is a cheapening of the craft mentality that goes into creating amazing cannabis products.
Read: Al Jazeera America – Weed all about it: The origins of the word ‘marijuana’
In their third whitepaper, the editorial board at SmokeReports.com continues on these points, having observed generally that common language used to describe the cannabis industry varies widely between political subdivisions – in other words, federal, state, and local authorities tend to use different terms. It varies widely between industry participants according to region. It varies widely between the various sectors – growers, manufacturers, and retailers/dispensaries.
The industry has always been able to speak within its own confines. But as cannabis gains legitimacy and legality, the industry must now communicate differently. The Northern California grower must speak with the Southern California dispensary. Seed producers may wish to establish consumer branding across a broad range of product categories. We must all communicate with consumers. But most notably, we must deal with legalities and regulations that transcend geography, political subdivisions, and the multitude of governmental agencies.
We believe that as cannabis gains legitimacy both in our society and by our laws, a common set of defined terms is important for the industry and for regulation.
Smoke Reports also highlighted the recently signed AB 266 regulations for the California medical cannabis industry, which exclusively used the term “medical cannabis” throughout the text of the bill – significant, because the original Prop 215 legislation almost exclusively used the term “marijuana.” Times certainly change.
Read: NPR – The Mysterious History of ‘Marijuana’
As a media voice for the space, we choose to use the term “cannabis” exclusively simply because it aligns with our brand. It’s a no-brainer because our goal is to highlight the best and brightest people and products in the industry. Cannabis is the scientific name for the plant, so when speaking in terms of medical efficacy, research, innovation and new technology, it’s only natural that we’d rather use the scientific term over a slang one. Furthermore, we pride ourselves in presenting the most accurate information possible about what’s going on in the cannabis industry. Grassroots authenticity is important in this community, but being factual and having a unified message is what makes a movement truly successful.
Major players in the space, including Harborside Health Center, also prefer to use “cannabis,” when referring to the plant and the industry as a whole.
Move the industry forward by abstaining from using “marijuana,” “pot,” and “weed,” and use the word “cannabis” instead. Will you share this article and encourage your friends and family to make the switch?