December 7, 2022

Why Does Cannabis Have So Many Different Names?

Read Time:2 Minute, 15 Second

I still have yet to decide if it is a blessing or a curse, all the many different options I have when coming up with names for Cannabis. 

I can always go with marijuana, but it seems so outdated and holds negative connotations. How about cannabis? I mean, I just used it about 80 times at the beginning of this post! However, it seems too formal. I can always go with the good old, timeless name, weed. But why does this simple little plant have so many ways to refer to it? Well, there’s a lot of history there.

Over the centuries, many generations have had their own takes on how they’ve collectively viewed weed. Due to these ideas, each new name seemed to have formed its own unperceived connotation that has seemed to transcend generations. These ideas have also affected slang terms. It was all done with the intent to better hide the topic of conversation around unsupportive people.

The term marijuana derives from Mexican Spanish and refers to a prisoner. This term was first popularized in America during the anti-drug campaign bomb of the 1930s. Due to its origin and first use, the term marijuana has seemed to keep its negative stereotype. Honestly, if you hear anyone refer to it as marijuana they are almost always in politics and are also likely to be conservative. 

Not much is known about the term cannabis. Simply that it derives from the Latin word canna/canya (reed), which means a plant with simple stems, and with reed means a stiff grass-like plant. The term cannabis has almost always been used when talking about it scientifically or historically, giving it a professional connotation.

Weed is a widely used term, with a much cooler feel which was caused by its origin. The term was coined during the 1920s and 1930s Jazz Age in America. Weed at that time was almost flying under the radar. Only big tobacco was worried about it becoming an industry competitor . Due to its conception, having been formed around the colored youth and creatives of the time, weed remains to be the best and modish way to refer to it. 

Different situations, historical times, and cultural thoughts are responsible for why this simple plant has a multitude of names to choose from. I haven’t even made a dent in this list. There are many, many, MANY other ways to refer to this plant. 

So next time, pay attention to how people choose to refer to weed; it could tell you a lot about where they stand and what term they heard the most over time. 

Images: Clutch, Kindel Media

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