Is “Cannabis” the Preferred Word Instead of “Marijuana”?

Is “Cannabis” the Preferred Word Instead of “Marijuana”?

Pot, Mary Jane, devil’s grass, dank, ganja, bud, cheeba, reefer — the list of various different slang terms and ways to say weed go on and on. But there’s one word that is a point of contention and controversy, and it might surprise you: marijuana. But, as you might be thinking, wouldn’t this be a proper term for weed? When it comes to referring to weed as cannabis or marijuana, the two terms have recently been seen as practically interchangeable. People often see these as the correct terms to refer to weed in a more formal way. So, why the controversy? What makes the term marijuana different? What makes the term cannabis preferred?

In this case, answering these questions requires some knowledge of history, etymology, and linguistics. Allow us to explain what we mean.

What Is the Origin of the Word “Marijuana”?

The origin of the word marijuana is as good of a starting point as any. To find the etymology of this word, you have to go all the way back to Mexico in the 1840s. In its original translation, it would be correctly spelled marihuana. America was far from the only country to demonize weed. Back in the 1840s, marihuana as it was known, was seen as a drug that was primarily enjoyed by the lower class in Mexico.

In the 1890s, the term started making its way to the US. Articles in Mexican papers would be translated about people committing crimes while high on marihuana. You could start seeing the alternative Americanized spelling of ‘marijuana’ in legal literature around the 1970s in the Nixon administration. So, why the controversy?

A Controversial History: Prohibition and Persecution

Although there is much argument about the amount of controversy that stems from the term marijuana, the prevailing reasoning against its usage is that it was seen as a way to link sentiment against the drug with Mexican immigrants. In other words, it was seen as a way to reinforce that Mexican immigrants were causing problems by bringing things like dangerous drugs over the border with them, riling up anti-immigrant ideologies.

On the other side of the coin, you have those who would argue that throwing out the term marijuana would be a form of erasure. It takes away some of the cultural influence that Mexican immigrants had on our country. So, the question of whether or not this term is racist hasn’t been settled. To some, it’s a conspiracy to cause anger and hate against immigrants, while others view it as a positive term that shows our unique mixture of cultural influences.

Of course, the prohibition and legislation surrounding cannabis in the past century hasn’t done much to dissociate negative connotations with the term marijuana. Back in 1937, when legislation was first passed to prohibit the use of the drug, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 stated that ““Marihuana means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L” but the act still allowed for the parts involved in hemp production to be used. Later, those who opposed this bill sought to correct the usage of the term marihuana. Opposition stated that marihuana was used by drug smokers and drug addicts and wasn’t a catch-all term for the word cannabis.

“Cannabis” Isn’t the Only Alternative

Wherever you fall on the debate about the controversy of the term ‘marijuana’ it’s probably pretty unlikely that you use the term ‘cannabis’ in your everyday vernacular. In fact, it’s probably unlikely that you use ‘marijuana’ either. As language changes and evolves, people develop more casual shorthand for oft-used terms. The slang terms for cannabis, as we mentioned before, are vast and numerous. Here, we’ve highlighted some of the most common slang terms and have provided a little history behind them. Now you’ve got a fun fact for the next time you smoke with friends!


Probably one of the most popular terms for cannabis, the term weed is derived from Mexico as well. It’s a shortened version of locoweed, which is an entirely different plant. Sometimes locoweed was used as slang for marijuana in Mexico and it was eventually shortened to the term we know today. If you consume cannabis, this is probably the slang term you know and love. It’s definitely become the go-to term for cannabis in the modern era.


Ganja is derived from a Hindi word, but it’s mainstream popularity can be credited more to Jamaica and the reggae community. When Britain transported slaves from India to Jamaica, they brought their knowledge of cannabis with them. Rastafarinism certainly played a part, as they began to embrace the spiritual aspect of the ganja the Indian people brought over. Once the word started being used in movies in television, it reached popularity outside the Indian and Jamaican communities.


The etymology of calling cannabis grass is a bit more simplistic. When hippie culture was taking hold in the 60s and 70s, the lower potency and quality weed often looked like grass. Thus, the slang term. Although this was once a pretty popular term for cannabis, it doesn’t seem to be used quite as much in the modern era.<p>


This one is less of a slang term and more of a way of indicating the form of cannabis you want. If you come to Las Vegas ReLeaf and order weed, for instance, we’d show you our edibles, our concentrates, and all manner of options. The flower, however, indicates you’d like buds, or the part of the marijuana plant that is filled with trichomes. Aka, the cannabis you can smoke in a pipe, bong, or bowl.

Slang Changes, But History Remains

Slang is certainly more ephemeral than some of the more legal terms used to describe cannabis, so it’s no surprise that the terminology is ever-changing. One thing that doesn’t change is history. It’s important to always remember what happened in the past, so we can make the least harmful decisions going forward. Cannabis was once ostracized, and not so long ago illegal everywhere in our country. Things have obviously changed a lot and many more people are enjoying the therapeutic, recreational, and medicinal benefits that cannabis provides.

As long as people are willing to keep an open-mind and continue to learn, the path for full legalization can be much clearer and smoother. And we can avoid using terms that have the potential for harm or negative connotation.

Learn, Experience and Enjoy with Las Vegas ReLeaf

Whether you’re looking for nug, weed, cannabis, or whatever you prefer to call it, we have it for you at Las Vegas ReLeaf. Our mission is to provide you with the best cannabis in Las Vegas, but also to learn about cannabis and its history, so we can be knowledgeable for our customers as well.

Also, if you place an order anytime before 4 pm, we will deliver your products that same day in Las Vegas as well as in the surrounding areas such as Summerlin, Centennial Hills, Henderson, Anthem, and Paradise. We make getting your cannabis as easy as can be.

We offer delivery to the Las Vegas area and have everything you need, including equipment, flower, edibles, concentrates, and much more. Place your order online or come on by the store to take a look at our stock in-person. We’re happy to help and offer you the best cannabis experience possible.


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