I’ve noticed a worrying trend in UK newspaper coverage of cannabis. More and more journalists seem to be confused about the appropriate and inappropriate words to describe this particular vegetable. The appropriate word is cannabis. That’s what it’s called. Cannabis sativa. You can also call it weed.
What it isn’t called – and should never be called – is what the UK media is increasingly choosing to call it. So please stop. Stop calling it “marijuana”. It must never be “marijuana”. Why did we choose to import this propaganda term from the United States? Who approved this? Why did the UK import “marijuana” rather than, for example, medical dispensaries or a rational regulatory framework?
No, we decided to ignore two admirable transatlantic innovations and instead went with using America’s bad word – a word concocted by propagandists and racists and corporations; a word chosen to instill fear of the Mexican menace into the heart of every God-fearing, white-souled neighborhood.
Seriously, how is “marijuana” still a thing? It’s a racist hate word. When referencing it we should be socially leaned upon to say “the M Word” instead, with a wink and a nudge. “Marijuana” has no place in a rational discussion of cannabis. It belongs in the past, along with other malevolent, best forgotten relics like the KKK, Jim Crow and the GOP.
The War on Hemp
It was once called merely “hemp”, not nearly as marijuanay as it would later become. George Washington grew hemp. Apparently he smoked hemp. He didn’t smoke marijuana. He smoked “hemp”: a word so inoffensive that no one could possibly be offended – I mean, “WAR ON HEMP” just sounds dumb. It’s like “War on Puppies”. However docile and somnalent become the masses, no one is falling for any “war on hemp”. And so a bunch of villains created a new, scarily foreign word to use instead, before beginning their endless, insane warfare against their own people. And – for reasons no one can explain to me – we’re still using this racist insult almost a century later.
In a medical context I can live with it, just. “Medical marijuana” has a nice alliterative rhythm to it. But poetry is the only tenable excuse here.
Bottom line, though, cannabis sativa is the medical name of the plant, and thus it must rationally be known as “medical cannabis”. After all, should heroin be re-legalized in the future, and let’s face it, half the heavy painkillers out there are basically heroin now… but should it be formally legalized, no doctor or newspaper will describe the legalization of “medical junk” or “medical horse”. Yet in the case of cannabis we have doctors and newspapers doing exactly that. They are using a slang term in place of a medical term. No true health care professional would use the phrase “medical marijuana”. Only a hack or an ignoramus would do so.
Marijuana: Cannabis Activists Should Know Better
What’s always weird to me is how many cannabis activists use the M Word. Is this becoming like the N Word, where black folks are allowed to use it in a post-modern way? Or are these activists oblivious to the subtext? Because it’s not OK to use “marijuana”. It implies that Mexican men, in huge sombreros and mustaches, are reefered up and coming this way to ravage your wife and children.
So, Cannabis and hemp from now on please. I’ll also accept ganj.
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