Over the years cannabis has been known by numerous terms – marijuana, grass, pot, dope, mary jane, weed – and this is just a short sample. Interestingly, even as the sector prepares to take its place as a legitimate and sophisticated industry, the terminology used by mainstream media outlets
, commentators and advocates continues to fluctuate between words – even though all but the term cannabis carry negative connotations. Although cannabis and marijuana have been used interchangeably for many years – for some, the term “marijuana” comes with both a negative racial legacy and
associations of a well documented propaganda campaign to position cannabis as a dangerous and addictive intoxicant (the “reefer madness” years). Language and words have a power that transcends their formal meaning – they instantly set the tone and frame for perceptions and emotive connection. And for an industry still in the throes of establishing itself, this is essential. A recent poll by Angus Reid found that more than half of all respondents believe that the deadline for legalization should be pushed back to ensure that governments are better prepared. Consistent terminology is a seemingly simple but important step in helping mitigate negative feelings and stigmas still associated with the product and industry. Using the term cannabis consistently and widely, will help normalize the medical and scientific nature of the plant and by doing so, elevate the public’s understanding, education and acceptance. For Business of Cannabis, we will use only use the term cannabis and we encourage others to do the same.