13 Aug The History Behind the Semantics of Cannabis and Marijuana
“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name” – Confucius
In an industry already rife with uncertainty around regulations and legalities, the terms used in conjunction with medical marijuana can make the issues even more convoluted. Are “marijuana” and “Cannabis” referring to the same thing?
With roots in both science and politics, the semantics of Cannabis are often debated. To unravel this confusing linguistic issue requires a short botany lesson and then, to add a layer of complexity, a history reminder.
The Botany of Cannabis
From a clinical perspective, Cannabis and marijuana are simply different terms for the same plant genus: Cannabis. Falling under the umbrella of Cannabis are the most commonly-referred to strains of Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. The family of flowering plants contains over 170 species and is able to be grown in most any warm, temperate region.
All parts of the plants have been used for many centuries – in a variety of cultures – for pharmaceutical, industrial, and health purposes. In fact, scientists believe that hemp is one of the oldest cultivated fibers, citing archeological evidence of its use from as far back as 10,000 B.C. in Ancient China.
Closer to home, U.S. scientific journals have been publishing evidence of the medical benefits of Cannabis for over 150 years, hailing its treatment of ailments such as headaches and insomnia. Cannabis continues to be a prevalent natural remedy and can be dosed sublingually, smoked or vaped, applied topically through oils and salves, or ingested in the form of edibles.
Perhaps some of the confusion in relation to Cannabis lies in the fact that other terms have been coined to point to the specific uses originating from specific parts of the plant: “marijuana” coming from the dried flower buds, hemp oil from the seeds, hemp fibers from the stem, and CBD oil from a combination of many parts of the plan.
The Historical Roots of Marijuana
Taking a step back in history is important in understanding how the word “marijuana” (or “marihuana”) plays a critical role in the politics and overall reception of Cannabis. While the origin of the word marijuana is often debated, the knowledge that it was deliberated created by supporters of the Cannabis prohibition movement to be inflammatory is not.
Prior to 1894, the word term marijuana was not found to be used or referenced. During the prohibition era, it was dubbed “the devil’s weed” to incite belief that use of the plant could cause addiction, hysteria, and general unsavory behavior.
To further the propaganda, the Spanish word “marijuana” was devise to emphasize the correlation between Mexican immigrants and the plant they were purported to have introduced to America. This move helped to further criminalize Cannabis and perpetuate the discriminatory notions surrounding its use.
How this terminology continues to impact the industry becomes important when legalities and regulation around Cannabis comes into play. One example of is the “Marihuana Tax Act of 1937,” in which Congress introduced the original federal legislation that prohibited marijuana. Interestingly, the act defined “Marihaua” as “…all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L…but shall not include the mature stalks of such plant, oil and cake made from the seeds of such plant”. It is important to note that these parts are cultivated and most often utilized in the hemp industry.
The Assistant Attorney General of the Treasury Department, Clinton M. Hester, even testified that the act was intentionally create to discourage the use of marijuana by drug addicts and to impose taxes on marijuana. In effect, this legislation ensured that the hemp industry could continue to thrive while the general public persisted in their pursuit to corrupt the perception of recreational and medicinal Cannabis use.
This, and many other cases of public reference to the term “marijuana”, exemplify the power of words and the images associated with them.
Reclaiming Cannabis as Medicine
Fast forward to today’s political and social climate surrounding the use of Cannabis. There are numbers of bills related to the evolving terminology surrounding Cannabis that push to eradicate the use of the word “marijuana” and the stereotypes surrounding it.
The proposed bills hope to permanently replace the word “marijuana” with “Cannabis” in all documentation and materials to further the anti-prohibition movement and bring clarity to over a century of negative connotations – and confusion – around the plan’s substantial benefits.
Sky Dispensaries provides an individual consultation to all patients to help you choose the best medical cannabis products to help you improve your quality of life. We lab test all of our medicines and products for quality in order to provide you with good information to help you make the best informed medication decision.