Words have a lot of power, which is the inspiration behind our series called Weed Words, which unpacks widely recognized but narrowly understood terms like “Paranoia,” “The Munchies,” and “CBD”. But what if as a society we are holding onto a word with a complicated, and quite frankly, racist history? It’s time to talk about “Marijuana.” If you aren’t aware of the weight this word carries — you’re not alone, and this episode will help shed light on its convoluted past.
Starting this sometimes uncomfortable conversation is a positive step toward building a cannabis industry we can all be proud of. We love to hear from you, so please listen to the episode and hit REPLY to share your thoughts about the word marijuana. ❤️ Ellen
CANNABIS HISTORY SPARK NOTES
1. Cannabis has been consumed medicinally for thousands of years all across the world. The Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Roman, Greek and Arabic civilizations all show its use in their records.
2. Cannabis was widely grown in the U.S. before the 1900s, with George Washington even exploring potential for medical cannabis in his journals. By the late 1800s, cannabis was a standard and common medical ingredient in the U.S.
3. In 1910, with the influx of nearly 1 million legal Mexican immigrants, cannabis began to be called marijuana and locoweed. Its recreational use became associated with Mexican Americans and other communities of color, like black jazz musicians. This was done with a negative connotation and demonized not only these communities, but the plant as well.
4. Marijuana’s association with communities of color gave it a negative and racist stigma that was leveraged into banning the plant in the 1930s. It continued to hold weight through the 1980s with President Reagan’s War on Drugs, and its heavy effects are still felt today.
5. While at its origins the term marijuana may have been the Mexican-Spanish word for cannabis, today it’s intertwined with a complicated, hurtful and convoluted history that makes it loaded with more weight than many realize. Cannabis, weed, pot, bud, or grass are all words to choose instead.