What Is The Difference Between Weed, Cannabis, and Marijuana? Revealed

Vangst/Nov 16, 2023

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Decoding Cannabis, Weed, and Marijuana: Historical Roots, Modern Nuances, and Industry Insights

Cannabis’ strong counter-culture and underground roots have resulted in a lot of nicknames for the plant that we all know and love – pot, weed, cannabis, the devil’s lettuce, dope, grass, wacky tobacky… The list goes on and on. At the end of the day, all of these terms are generally referring to the same thing, but as we’ll explore today, the roots of these terms have historical significance, and contemporary nuances that set them apart.

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What to say to your friend who asks – what is the difference between cannabis, weed, and marijuana?

The terms "weed," "cannabis," and "marijuana" are often used interchangeably, but they aren't quite synonymous. Weed is a casual, colloquial term often associated with the plant's recreational use. Cannabis is the scientific name for the plant family that includes both hemp and marijuana. Marijuana, on the other hand, specifically refers to the psychoactive strains of the cannabis plant.

Vocabulary 101

While overall cannabis, weed, and marijuana are all referring to the same plant that we all know and love, there are notable distinctions between the historical origins and societal connotations of these words.

"Cannabis" is the overarching term encompassing the entire plant family, including both hemp and marijuana. The regulated industry uses “cannabis” almost exclusively, as it’s the most inclusive and professional word to use, especially when referring to the industry.

"Weed" is a colloquial and casual expression often used in everyday conversation, capturing the plant's recreational essence. The term became associated with cannabis in the 1900s, and is thought to be a shortened form of the word “locoweed,” a plant found in Mexico.

“Marijuana" specifically denotes the psychoactive strains of the cannabis plant. The term "marijuana" is considered racist due to its historical association with 1930s American politicians who popularized it during cannabis prohibition, portraying the drug as a "Mexican vice" to target Mexican immigrants.

A Historical Odyssey

To understand these terms fully, let's take a trip back in time. Cannabis has been cultivated for various purposes for centuries. Hemp, a non-psychoactive variety, was historically used for textiles, paper, and even food. It wasn't until the early 20th century that the term "marijuana" gained prominence, often linked with political and racial undertones during the era of cannabis prohibition.

Cannabis: The Inclusive and Professional Term

Cannabis stands as the encompassing term for the entire plant family, artfully incorporating both hemp and marijuana. This scientifically grounded term takes center stage in the regulated industry, favored for its inclusivity and professionalism. Diving into the world of cannabis unveils a spectrum of possibilities, from hemp's industrial applications to marijuana's therapeutic potentials. Beyond recreational nuances, understanding cannabis becomes a key to appreciating the diverse facets of a plant that has profoundly shaped human history. It's not merely about the euphoria; it's a journey into the multifaceted nature of a botanical marvel.

Weed - More Than Just a Plant

Weed, a colloquial term frequently used in everyday conversation, encapsulates the plant's recreational essence and has evolved into a symbol of a dynamic cultural shift. Originating in the 1900s, it is believed to be a shortened form of "locoweed," a plant from Mexico. This term has transcended its recreational connotations, becoming a catalyst for conversations about cannabis. Beyond its initial association, weed has embraced diverse roles, from medicinal applications to fostering creative inspiration, challenging societal norms, and illuminating potential benefits. In essence, "weed" has grown into a multifaceted symbol within the ever-evolving cannabis landscape.

Marijuana - Breaking the Stigma

Marijuana, distinguished by its psychoactive properties, has undergone a transformative journey from stigma and criminalization to acknowledgment and celebration of its medicinal benefits. Exploring therapeutic potentials, it contributes to pain management and anxiety relief, challenging outdated perceptions and fostering a nuanced understanding. Despite the term's historical association with racist undertones in the 1930s, recent research by scholars, including Isaac Campos, questions the intentional popularization of the term during prohibition. Campos argues against avoiding the term, noting that "marijuana" has been in use since the 19th century and its erasure could lead to unforeseen issues, highlighting the complex and evolving narrative surrounding this once-controversial term.

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