420 Magazine Background

Marijuana/Marihuana vs Cannabis How Words Affect Perception


New Member
Hey everyone I want to start this conversation because as a worldwide community we are moving further and faster than we could have ever dreamed 15 years ago. We are making so much progress and getting legalization established is a dream come true for some of us. We've fought for medical access and to most of us it has been granted. Something that only a handful were allowed is now becoming strong industries and specialized care units. As a group we have done a lot. So firstly I want to thank all of those who have signed initiatives and petitions, those who have attended rallies, those who have provided time and money to these causes and all the honored guests who have contributed.

Today we talk about perception and origins of words, and the way that these words affect thought and public opinion. There are so many colloquial and slang terms for cannabis. Many of them have very negative undertones that we may or may not even realize.

Weed: Unwanted, invasive, bad, a pest, etc
Pot: A quick easy word to throw around, has little to no basis, calls the kettle black, pot-head
Dope: Also slang for other drugs and narcotics (if not all)
Marijuanan/Marihuana : A term developed in the early 1900s during the Mexican revolution, more prolifically used to degrade the plant when being used by Mexican, immigrants and blacks. Used in the black candle.

Now compare that to :

Cannabis : Scientific name for plant, rooted in history from Mesopotamia through to Egypt and the Persian empire, all the way to the patented medicines in the late 1800.

It is of my opinion that we should stop referring to the plant as anything but Cannabis. It has more positive connotations and discredits the last 100~ years of name calling and criminalization. With all the progress we've made shouldn't we at least bring back the former glory of the great Cannabis plant?

Discussion, thoughts? (ps I'm not saying this will happen over night, but we should consider using it in our day to day lexicon and telling medical practitioners and politicians to use the proper word for most effect)

Brick Top

New Member
I do for the most part agree but with one slight difference.

Some words or terms can become so accepted that changing the usage of them completely is extremely difficult among an entire nation's government and population let alone that of the entire world. That being the case I see no harm in the word marijuana used as long as medical or medicinal is used with it, as in medical marijuana or medicinal marijuana.

The medical or medicinal portion connects a positive connotation to the the word marijuana, it denotes it, it indicates it as being something good rather than something bad, it alters it from being a negative into being a positive. It creates a connection with helping people, or treating and curing or those with medical and or psychological maladies.

Consider the English language, or just limit to the U.S. to make the example easier for me to make and the meaning to be understood. There is a long list of words or terms or 'names' many wish would just vanish from the national lexicon, but they have become so ingrained in the language they will never die out, they will exist as long as there are people to use/say them.

So rather than trying to avoid the use of marijuana in hope the word marijuana is forgotten or seldom if ever used or for the negative connotation that has wrongly been applied to it ti vanish simply alter it's use and add a positive, add 'a plus for the people' and in time the negative connotation will no longer be connected with the word even if the medical or medicinal portion is not included. Either usage will carry a positive definition.

The words usage is to ingrained, 'to carved in stone' amongst the government and population for the small number of us, in relation to the size of the overall population, who try to use cannabis as much as possible rather than marijuana or other words for the substance to alter what word us used by most so take the most common one and redefine it and keep using the redefinition until it overcomes the current negative pejorative one.

It would be reversing, undoing, a wrong that should never have occurred.

Redefine rather than try to force change. It worked for Democrats when the semi automatic sporterized versions of military weapons that in reality work on the very same basic design and principal as many sporting and hunting rifles were redefined as assault weapons creating the thought and image of a weapon equal to that used by the various military's of the world, even though no military in the world would supply it's assault troops with semi automatic sporterized versions of military weapons because they know their military members would be slaughtered, but by redefining what the weapons actually are into what the Democrats wanted people to believe they are they therefore created the false reality that they are far more powerful and deadly than they are. Just as with marijuana in the first place they redefined and demonized and pounded it into the heads of the public by repeating it until it became the new reality and therefore accepted.

Another, but very different way to look at it is this way. There was a time cars were called automobiles but when was the last time you heard someone tell you something about their automobile? They say car or truck or SUV. Marijuana is like car or truck or SUV and the relatively few people like us compared to the vast masses would find it a virtual impossibility to get the use of the word marijuana changed to cannabis just as another relatively small group in relation to the size of the overall population would be able to get people to stop saying car or truck or SUV and go back to automobile.

So it seems to me a much easier thing to accomplish to attach a positive connotation to the word by not using it alone than to try to totally change what word is used the most and accepted the most by the government and general population.

Once it is accepted as a positive in that form the word alone will no longer be seen as a negative, just a shortened version like car rather than automobile, and then things can progress to total legalization rather than just medical or medicinal use.

So use the same proven tactic as with 'assault rifles' but in reverse by removing the wrongly applied negative connotation via redefinition.

Regardless of what polls say, at least in the U.S., the nation is a LONG way from full legalization but it is reaching a tipping point when it comes to medicinal use and laws. Stick with the most accepted term but redefine it and once medicinal use is fully legal it will be an easier shorter easier step to make to full legalization. And it will be a shorter easier step because by using the most commonly used and accepted word and removing the negative connotation to it the connotation will no longer exist when it comes to full legalization even when the 'car version,' that of course being marijuana' is used alone.

It will have been proven not only not harmful but helpful and good and once seen that way it could not be seen totally opposite for recreational use. All the lies and myths will have been proven to be wrong and that means no more negative connotation even without medical or medicinal used before marijuana.

But that's just how I see it.


New Member
I don't agree because not changing is not progress. Only change can produce progress. If we just forget about history then we are likely doomed to repeat it. It doesn't matter how hard something is if it's the right thing to do. By your logic we should keep calling the mentally handicapped/disabled or any onea a retard. We should keep calling people fags and queers as an insult. We should also use cunt and fema-nazi willy nilly.

Also language change so often, so much and so frequently that in only a thousand or so years or so the english language came to be as we now know it "old English". By being the change we want we can achieve it. And for just changing 1 word. I dont see it being overly difficult.

We might disagree still after all this, but that is ok. Even just creating the dialogue we are both helping achieve this change. :)



420 Member
Same for me.. if I accidentally say 'marijuana' out of old habits, I actually correct myself and say Cannabis. Occasionally I'll say pot/weed, but 98% of the time It's Cannabis to generalize. I refuse to use a word that was INVENTED to create public panic and fear of Cannabis, in order to increase support for its prohibition.

If I'm speaking about specific effects/uses, I'll just say Indica or Sativa.

And while we're debating terminology, there's no such thing as an "SUV". That term was invented in the early 90's to increase the popularity of TRUCKS with soccer moms.

They've been making 'SUV's since the 60's, (if not earlier). They were called trucks :)


Active Member
i've had the same feelings toward the language of the culture, and how it enforces the societal stigma against cannabis. for myself, i like to refer to the following usages:

marijuana - any of the uses below
cannabis - all medicinal, therapeutic and dietary use
weed - all recreational use
hemp - all non-cannabis and non-recreational use

the only reason i like the terms marijuana and weed are because they have become so ingrained in all societies that we arent going to lose them, so we might as well co-opt them for something constructive. if we can at least classify some terms to move forward with, i would be for it.


New Member
I agree with eliminating the use of "marijuana" which is easy enough for me. I haven't used the word in 30 years and never used it much. I like weed though.

And while we're at it how about correcting the usage of the words "sativa" and "indica." "Sativa" actually means "cultivated" and "indica" was invented by Lamarck to describe a NLD type observed in India in the late 18th century, not the WLD type from Afghanistan commonly called "indica" today. Cannabis Sativa was first named by Linnaeus to describe European hemp which was the only type he knew.
Top Bottom