Marijuana, Cannabis, Ganja, Weed, Grass, Pot, Reefer, or Maryjane: What’s In a Name?

I am periodically amused when we receive an email or phone call at NORML from an enthusiastic, usually young, supporter, advising us he/she has found the missing link to marijuana legalization: come up with a new name for our favorite herb.

That’s right. Some who are new to the issue, when they first discover the racist under-pinning’s of both marijuana prohibition, and the word “marijuana” itself, naively think if we could just stop using the word “marijuana,” and instead use “cannabis” or some other synonym, our opposition would suddenly disappear, and we would have a clear path to legalization.

I wish it were that simple. But it is not the name we use that makes it difficult to legalize marijuana; it is the misinformation left from decades of government anti-marijuana propaganda. We are having to re-educate millions of Americans about marijuana, including especially those in the media and our elected officials.

At NORML we do not follow some stylebook, and we use all kinds of words to describe marijuana at different times. I’m an old-timer so I generally stick with “marijuana,” and I do not consider it a negative term. It’s the name most Americans use to identify the plant. But others at NORML prefer “cannabis”, and our political alerts, press releases and media interviews also frequently include the use of “pot” or “weed” or other popular slang terms for marijuana.

As an aside, it is a little strange that one would write NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, to suggest that we stop using the word “marijuana.” We are proud of the acronym NORML, a double entendre, which is also our registered service mark. We wanted to normalize marijuana smoking when we started the organization in 1970, and NORML seemed like the perfect acronym.

But more importantly, those who feel the term we choose to use in our advocacy is a primary obstacle holding the country back from legalizing marijuana, misunderstand the nature of our opponents.

Those who oppose marijuana legalization, and support prohibition, either have an exaggerated view of the potential dangers from marijuana smoking; or they have decided to oppose legalization for political reasons (e.g., they still identify marijuana smoking with radical, lefty politics).

In either case, using another word in place of marijuana will have absolutely no impact. Those who ignore the science, and believe that marijuana is “the devil’s weed,” will not assume a more rational position, regardless of what we call it. And those who consider marijuana smoking to be anti-establishment behavior will continue to think of marijuana smokers as cultural rebels, even if we call ourselves “cannabis users.” The name is inconsequential.

It’s the level of public support that determines when and where we legalize marijuana. Public attitudes, in a country as large as the US, change slowly, and gradually, over a period of time. Because of the government’s “reefer madness” campaign of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, most older Americans were effectively “brain-washed” (another term from the 50s) into believing that marijuana was dangerous and evil, and would lead to depravity. Thus it is no surprise that when NORML was founded in late 1970, only 12% of the public favored legalizing the drug. It was only by advancing a more rational understanding of marijuana and marijuana smokers over several decades that we eventually began to see higher levels of support for legalization, bringing us to where we are today, with 58% of the country nationwide now favoring an end to prohibition and the establishment of a legally regulated market.

We are finally winning this long struggle, not because we came up with a new term for marijuana; but because we took the time and made the effort to re-educate Americans about the relative safety of marijuana, as well as the important medical uses of the drug. We have finally won the hearts and minds of a majority of the country, who now understand that marijuana prohibition causes far more problems than the use of the drug itself, regardless of what name one prefers to use for marijuana.

56 thoughts

  1. It is frustrating and disgusting to me that Mr. Bernie Sanders is currently the only presidential candidate that is being honest about marijuana prohibition. He is the only one that will work towards legalization and ending the draconian practice of locking people up for and and ruining their lives in various ways.

    Mr. Bernie Sanders is the only person, I have decided, that I will even consider voting for unless other candidates get on board with ending the ignorant racist laws against the herb. In that case, I will give them some consideration. Even so, I will not forget that Mr. Sanders is the only person currently that has the forsight and integrity to try to do the right thing on this issue.

    Mrs. Clinton would do the country, and the Democratic Party, a great service if she would get on board with legalization. So far, she has gone no further than suggesting she might move marijuana to schedule 2; which is just stupid!

    1. Yes. In Hillary’s case, there are multiple frustrations. When husband Bill left the presidential office, he stated marijuana should be decriminalized in an interview published in Rolling Stone magazine. – I have never heard her disavow her husband’s stance. – Someone should ask her if she agrees with him.

      1. I really wish someone would ask her that. So far, her position shows her ignorance on the matter and a real lack of courage.

        I believe she is firmly in the hands of Big Pharma and the Private Prison Industry. I distrust her completely!

  2. Repealing the legal definition of “marihuana” would be a simple and complete way to open full legalization. Federally, it would be like a silver bullet against prohibition. There has never been any law either defining or prohibiting “marijuana” – only “marihuana”. Technically, “marijuana” does not exist – and our referendums legalizing “marijuana” could even be undone, with a court ruling. The outrageous legal definition of “marihuana” is what holds our global drugwar in place.

    1. Mathew,
      I don’t mean to curb your enthusiasm but you do realize the Department of Health and Human Services holds US patent #6630507 on “cannabinoids as neuroprotectants,” since 2001, identifying the cannabis plant on a molecular level. Changing names to a definition won’t help if th general public and our Congress doesn’t even read the definition, much less understand it.

      I have suggested on this post making any patent on cannabinoids open source, as I find it morally objectionable to patent the vital sustenence of life, however even that would not deschedule cannabis, weed, hemp, marihuana or marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act without Congressional approval.

      I mean for fucks sake we are talking about a law in a country that doesn’t even distinguish hemp from marijuana, only slightly from the recent hemp amendment to the Farm Bill. Thats like not being able to tell the difference between a chihuahua and a German Shepherd!

      The only good news is the momentum from Senator Sanders is going to reveal who we really need to vote for in November after at least 6 or 7 states legalize. Vermont legalizing legislatively is going to legalize marijuana, no matter how you name “legalization” for that matter…

    2. Mathew,
      Marijuana, marihuana, ganga, weed, cannabis, indica, sativa and ruderalis have all been patented by the Department of Health and Human Services US Patent #6630507 for “cannabinoids as neuroprotectants. Granted, to patent basic human sustenence is morally objectionable, and I have long advocated this “patent” of cannabinoids be made open source so as not to provoke unregulated activity under prohibition.

      For fucks sake, our government is the only industrialized one in the world that doesnt even distinguish the difference between hemp and marijuana except only marginally by the recent hemp amendment to the farm bill. That’s like not being able to legally tell the difference between grape juice and wine, or a chihuahua and a German Shepherd. Do you really think Congress will end it all over some spelling?

      The CSAct by any other name would still be prohibition. Congress has to change it, which means we have to Take Action and write them, read NORML’s voter guide and vote.

      1. I apologize for the redundancy; amateur mistake not refreshing the page again so I double posted. But on second thought, to hell with it, I agree with Bobwv, let’s call it Stonerbunnies to highlight the recent pandemic of stoned bunnies the DEA pointed out to us. Thank you DEA; Our hard-earned tax dollars are at work!

  3. “It’s the level of public support that determines when and where we legalize marijuana.”

    ~ This is how we’ve been having to do it, yet it is certainly not the only way. Leary v. United States is an example. As can be gleaned from Raich v. Ashcroft – the Supreme Court Justices don’t know about the decisively significant uses of “marihuana”, in our country’s founding and especially in our original legal documents, themselves. Simply establishing these facts, before the highest court, could always lead to prohibition being overturned, also. Congress may not outlaw the US Constitution, yet our Supreme Court Justices haven’t ever yet officially realized that this is what has been done. Cannabis Sativa has been “marihuana”, federally, only since FDR forced it to be, since 1937.

    1. Smacks too much of “freedom fries” remember that? Besides, when’s the last time you rolled up some fat freedom or stuffed some freedom in yer pipe and smoked it? Too many inuendos.

      I mean I dont want my freedom “vaporized” that would be awful. 😉

      Think were just gonna have to destigmatize the word marijuana getting one Congressman stoned in public at a time.

      I got a solution; lets get DC public venues legal and open a marijuana cafe right down K street! By the time lunch break rolls around at the Capitol we’ll be legalized federally and we can name it whatever we want!

      1. Freedom can go up in smoke. People must have to cultivate it with care so that it can grow. Freedom isn’t a substance, but marijuana is the most closest thing to it.

      2. Just givin you a hard time Joel; 🙂 (and the other Joel…)

        Marijuana has an adept capacity to provide freedom to so many in so many ways.

        I believe the broader point Keith is getting at is that in order to break the stigma to ourselves and our Congressman surrounding any of the names for marijuana, its going to happen with good old fashioned education and experience, no matter what we call it whether in slang or legalese.

        So I’m serious as a heart attack; let’s get some Congressman in these marijuana venues up and rolling this year (or vaporizing, however you prefer…) so they can legally experience first hand the cultural value of legalization.

        Everyone please make sure your younger siblings and friends are registered to vote, know where their precinct votes, and show up to election day!

  4. I agree with NORML that renaming this plant will have little effect on changing the minds of the ones who oppose it. I do however feel it is important to point out that the plant was made illegal by naming it marijuana and that most people were lied to during those initial congress and senate hearings that ultimately made it illegal. It should be clearly noted that the term cannabis was accepted in society as a medication and known for being relatively safe to use, and during those hearings the Ashlingers (the ones promoting it’s prohibition) clearly stated that the cannabis and marijuana were not the same plant. The testimony of a a doctor during that time, attempted to state the truth and was essentially called a lier / uninformed expert who was misinforming when he stated the two were the same. If his testimony was taken for the truth it was, it would have likely never been made illegal, and more likely had led to it being regulated vs. made prohibited. Making this point is in my opinion crucial to reversing these harmful oppressive laws that ultimately don’t prevent people from using. I additionally think that the view of personal choice to use a substance is more important than protecting society from themselves. This should be about who owns their body and the choices one has to decide what goes in their body, with governments only rolls should be where/when drugs should be consumed, age of user ie adult, and regulation of the sale ie quality / identification of chemicals, warning of safety hazards, and potentially sin taxes. It is not the federal governments job to prohibit ones choice in consuming a product in America. Prohibitions are the ideologies of kings, dictatorships, and communism. If you believe in America being a free nation, then you should be against laws that prohibit ones personal choices. Period!

    [Editor’s note: A recent book by UNC professor John Chasteen, “Getting High: Marijuana Through The Ages”, casts light on the myth that the word ‘marijuana’ was conjured up by American prohibitionists in the 1920s/30s to confuse the public and/or propagate the notion of an entirely new drug. Mr. Chasteen reviewed Mexican literature and newspaper accounts from the 1840s where the first word to describe a cannabis concoction was ‘pipiltzintzintlis’, which was ingested. The first references to smoked cannabis by the Mexican Academy of Pharmacy refers to ‘Rosa Maria’. Another term emerged for Rosa Maria that is found in their 1846 pharmacopeia, ‘mariguana’.

    By the 1860-70s, Mexican papers regularly referred to the herbal drug as ‘marihuana’.]

    1. I don’t think anyone could have put more thought into this topic than this man, Andy. Kudos to you and well stated. Thank you for the minor history you touched base with. And yes TO EACH, THEIR OWN! A GREAT MODO WE SHOULD ALL BE TAUGHT! This is why our generation is so important to come together and lead our future gov’t in this matter. I believe there is a substantial atmospheric necessary growth for this and all natural living organisms with photosynthesis characteristic attributes allowed to be studied consumed on our own accord and judgement should be made through scientific facts and not personal discrimanTory proposals by any human man or woman because of their personally tormented experiences that they believe to be reason enough to be able to CONSTITUTIONALLY disapprove of any said earthly revolutionized creatures-Living and Non-Living Organisms alike. I just conjured this statement of mine up as I wrote it! Hope you enjoyed my partaking in this blog. Ty Keith stroup for your concerns in this vital subject in The United States Of America I know our 4Fathers would be and are very proud of all who stand up and voice their opinion on the Cannibus Marijuana and Hemp growth and study importance. THIS IS WHY IT IS IMPORTANT FOR ALL WHO SHARE THIS SUBJECT AS A COMMON DENOMINATOR

  5. When using derogatory terms to define something, the appearance of objectivity does not exist. It predetermines the perception of the author on stance and status. It tell the reader that the information is slanted towards prohibition and not enlightenment.

  6. I don’t know what impact changing a racist term would have in favor of ending prohibition if any. However the defense of using the term because it will not do anything to end prohibition, is a poor excuse to continue using it. I understand it would be inconvenient to change the name from NORML to NORCL, however there are many folks who don’t get the play on words anyway with the acronym used for the organization. It is dated slang that was coined out of negativity. I prefer the herb, or bud, or its correct nomenclature “Cannabis” than slang that was used against an entire culture in a disparaging manner. Just my humble opinion. Free the weed!

    [Editor’s note: “It is dated slang that was coined out of negativity.”
    Or not…as a recent book by UNC professor John Chasteen, “Getting High: Marijuana Through The Ages”, casts light on the myth that the word ‘marijuana’ was conjured up by American prohibitionists in the 1920s/30s to confuse the public and/or propagate the notion of an entirely new drug. Mr. Chasteen reviewed Mexican literature and newspaper accounts from the 1840s where the first word to describe a cannabis concoction was ‘pipiltzintzintlis’, which was ingested. The first references to smoked cannabis by the Mexican Academy of Pharmacy refers to ‘Rosa Maria’. Another term emerged for Rosa Maria that is found in their 1846 pharmacopeia, ‘mariguana’.

    By the 1860-70s, Mexican papers regularly referred to the herbal drug as ‘marihuana’.]

  7. There’s too much capita invested within the private prison complexes that the goonies refuse to consider evidence against propaganda.

    Nobama started to slide down the mountain when he acknowledged the US’ “War on Drugs” was a complete and utter failure. Yet for the past few years, Uncle Sam has still been eating synthetic sugar cubes from the hands of big pharma foaming at the mouth about “Cannabis is schedule 1, not good,must be evil”.

    There is no politician that is willing to put their necks on the line for legalization strictly for the good of the people they represent.

    [Editor’s note: The current governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin, has advocated for the last three years that Vermont should seriously reform the state’s cannabis laws and wants to sign a legalization bill into law before he leaves office. The Vermont legislature is currently debating a legalization bill, that has passed in a Senate committee…and now moves this week to a House committee.

    The most important state in the union, California, has a governor-in-waiting in the state’s Lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom, who publicly supports legalizing cannabis (and headed up a ‘blue ribbon’ commission last year that recommended as much).]

  8. Great article, Mr. Stroup. I found more than a few points in your article highly significant:

    “It’s the level of public support that determines when and where we legalize marijuana. Public attitudes, in a country as large as the US, change slowly, and gradually, over a period of time.”

    This is a very important point for millenials and younger generations, not only in regards to marijuana legalization, but social change in general. We are often sold a ficticious image of social change in a sort of romantic way: sweeping revolution and towering leaders. Reality has shown us the opposite: incremental change and a whole lot of people working really hard over a long period of time. When we start to see significant movement on an issue like marijuana, we must credit those who have been working hard for decades to make it happen. We are, in a sense, riding the wave that was set in motion.

    Younger people need to realize this, because it reminds us all to keep fighting for policy based on evidence, not fear. It reminds us that the nature of social change is slow, and our lifespans are just smaller timeframes within a larger timespan of change.

    Thanks Keith Stroup – you’ve been there doing it for a long time.

  9. Oh how true, it has been a long, long time 46 years now,.and what a time it must have been for you and NORML. So where do I begin to express my regard and appreciation for the LONG, HARD battles you and NORML have fought for all of us potheads. Thank you Mr. Stroup you will never know how many people’s lives you have helped change for the better; by working so hard for the FREEDOM that is finally coming. You will always be my Hero by any name. Thank you again and God Bless You and Yours

  10. It’s not just novices to the movement who wrestle with this topic.
    Please see my essay from Guy Mount’s “Holy Smoke” magazine (Spring 1995) & the rejoinders by Guy himself & by Ellen Komp published in Winter 1996.
    While Ms. Komp defended “marijuana,” she did quote Albert Goldman’s book “Grass Roots: Marijuana in America Today:”
    “Though names don’t alter substances, it means a world of difference whether you call dope cannabis, marijuana, or hemp…”
    That’s his opinion, and I agree, after almost 50 years of advocacy.
    But read on…
    In 2014, we ran an experiment in Minnesota. Our state doesn’t allow ballot INITIATIVE petitions, so we petitioned to place pro-weed CANDIDATES on the ballot.
    For Governor and State Auditor we nominated candidates for the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis party.
    We also ran someone for Attorney General with a ballot label of Legal Marijuana Now.
    Legalize Cannabis got 30,000 for Governor & 55,000 for Auditor. Legal Marijuana got 57,000 for A.G.
    So to the voters, EITHER label is attractive–which seems to uphold those who say it doesn’t matter that we’re calling our sacrament by the name which was meant to demonize it.
    But there’s a more nuanced analysis. Yes, it makes little difference to people who like the herb–compare 55K or 57K votes.
    But to the brainwashed, & to the fanatics and prohibitionists, “marijuana” still remains a toxic verbal trigger which instantly shuts down their rational thought processes.
    I know NORML stood bravely against the witch hunt through the worst years. But it was Jack Herer more than anyone else who re-framed the debate & put “Hemp for Victory” into our vocabulary, moving our cause from defense to offense.
    Jack wrote that “cannabis hemp is the greatest plant on earth.” I’m with Jack.
    Words, even when not tabooed, can carry connotations that may become liabilities, & cause negative political repercussions, once we get beyond our own ranks.

  11. Here’s what Albert Goldman said about “hemp:”

    Hemp is a square-toed, woolen-stocking word that is pure dumb Anglo-Saxon, like bump or lump. If Americans had always called marijuana “hemp” as do the English, it is doubtful that the drug could ever have incurred or sustained such a reputation for wickedness.

  12. The decades of deceptive anti-marijuana propaganda that Keith refers to have left shrapnel in my mind, and I’m still picking it out to this day. For example, the phrase “Why do you think they call it ‘dope?'” is stuck in my brain.

    Of course, they call it dope because they’re calling you stupid. They’re implying weed makes you stupid (not true), and that you’re stupid for smoking it (also not true.)

    I like “the stuff”, as in “Hey Man, you got the stuff?” for that Mission Impossible vibe.

    I met a patient at a dispensary who had bought some Green Crack, but didn’t like the name; he said, “But it’s like a pet, you can take it home and name it whatever you want. I’m calling mine Fido.”

    I agree with Keith: Legalize marijuana, and the rest (dope, pot, bud, ganga, marihuana, etc.) will follow!

  13. What would it take to obtain class action standing for everyone affected by current Controlled Substances Act scheduling that was accomplished by perjury before Congress and in the courts, false claims, restraint of trade, suppression of exculpatory evidence, war waged against us is treason . . . are we not due reparations?

    1. So far, the most recent Federal judge’s ruling from Judge Mueller allows the DEA to say “Congress is not required to be right.”
      Isn’t that a mind fuck for the patriotic and noble-minded citizens of this nation?
      “Well that was a tital wave of permissible evidence from the defense; Any closing arguments DEA?”
      “Yeah, uh… Congress doesn’t have to be right.”
      (Judges gavel slams down)
      “Case closed! Not in THIS court! B-bye!”

      THAT was bull$#!+…

      I suspect, Jose, that Federal, Apellate and the Supreme Court will begin hearing cases examining the entire CSAct as soon as more than half of the US delegates represent legalized states this November, and Vermont introduces the first legislatively initiated marijuana legalization. These are the standards by which damages can be awarded in Federal courts when we have legislation providing courts Congressional guidelines that properly define Constitutional violations.
      What do we do with everyone in jail on possessions charges? Let them out.
      What do we do with international war crimes and violations? Have people tried in the Hague or settle it in civil court.
      What about all the jobs we lost and the families torn apart? Create a regulated marijuana industry that provides adequate representation for our taxation and amend the US Constitution to make it illegal to prohibit marijuana ever again.

      We have to make Congress do their job before any president or Federal judge has a chance.

      1. I’d still like to know how courts are legally allowed to dismiss the facts of perjury that remains on the Congressional Record as well as false claims before the courts denying cannabis’ safe, accepted medical use in the United States:

  14. ‘Those who ignore the science, and believe that marijuana is “the devil’s weed,” will not assume a more rational position, regardless of what we call it.’

    Sadly, very true.

    Bush 2.0, the first President of the 21st Century claimed the door is still open on evolution.

    The GOP insists that climate change is a hoax despite a scientific consensus of over 90% of workers knowledgeable in the field. Remember the real Galileo’s problems with the Vatican? The Pope himself admonished Congress about climate change only a few months ago.

    Political ideology does NOT ‘trump’ science anymore than religious faith.

    Do we really want anyone acting as commander in chief whose willing to delude themselves about reality? Do we want them in charge of any aspect of the country’s future? Such a person is not competent to run the country.

  15. Keith,

    You are a lawyer – is there no way to file lawsuits proving that current CSA scheduling is based on lies, perjury, false claims?

    Millions were saddled with records over weed while the banks were kept afloat by drug money – no bankers were even arrested.

    Reparations are what is needed, from double digit reductions in dui related fatalities in states with liberalized marijuana laws to undisputed anti-carcinogenic, pain and stress relief and a very long list of safe accepted relieving medical use in the United States.

    The “legal” alternatives, alcohol, tobacco, opiates, SSRIs all are associated with holocaust level death rates.

    Please, we need you at NORML to join forces with people like Florida attorney John Morgan and show the world: Drug War is CRIME.

  16. I’m happy to generally accept any name people throw out there for cannabis in a conversation, but for pushing forward our agenda we should be considerate about what words we use. Polls where people are asked about cannabis under various names show significant differences in apparent public support based on what word is used. I think cannabis is the best term because it is the botanical term and is also one of the terms that have been used throughout human history.

  17. The etymology of the word “cannabis” according to Sulah Benet, author of the 1968 publication of “Early Diffusions and Folk History of Hemp,” is rooted in the Hebrew translation of “Kanneh Bosem,” which was used in the holy healing oils since the time of Moses.
    Some of our more right wing evangelicals voting for Ted Cruz (who just flopped his support on mandatory minimums holding smarter sentencing hostage in the Senate) would be surprised that Bernie Sanders’ ancestors were using hemp oil in the holy anointing oils long before Jesus ever used it in the sick and imprisoned.
    Perhaps the greater epiphany is not what words we all use now to describe marijuana, but what words our prophets and Lords used then…

  18. i have a name for cannabis as well. simple and meaningful. It is the remedy. It has been a remedy for me for many years (32). It has brought balance and peace to my mind. a.d.d and anxiety made me a wreck. Remedy helps me to think things thru.I also think it helps me to follow thru with things i think about physically. Their is peace upstairs. Corporate drug testing (hair) has put the wrench in my cogs once again…..

  19. it is a weed that has been used by all early civilizations, marijuana and cannabis have become taboo like words. it is what it is, people are going to use. peace

  20. By starting from the federal definitions, it can be said that hemp is not marijuana, but it is Cannabis sativa L., and all varieties of cannabis are not marijuana, but they are Cannabis sativa L., however cannabis smoke is exactly the same thing as marijuana smoke.

    It is reasonable to say that the cannabis plant is the marijuana plant, in the sense that marijuana is created when cannabis is burned.

    Therefore marijuana is actually cannabis smoke – a meaning which is included, but not specifically stated in the federal definition, although it is frequently demonstrated by Keith and many other people.

    So a clarifying reform of the federal definition would be that the term “marijuana” means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L., although that definition alters the intent of the existing federal definition.

    A better reform of the federal definition which maintains its intent, yet restores the Ninth and Tenth Amendment liberty rights to grow and use the plant Cannabis sativa L. by the People, is this:

    The term “marijuana” means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L. which is prohibited to be grown by or sold by any publicly traded corporation or subsidiary company.

    The result of either of these reforms is that the plant Cannabis sativa L. is descheduled, and marijuana keeps its status as being temporarily prohibited until the definition is rescheduled.

    The question is, do we want corporations to start growing and selling cannabis? It is a question which must be vigorously debated by the People.

    This year is a good time to have that debate.

    [Editor’s note: Is vigorous debate really warranted here?

    A single person with an idea or service can constitute a ‘corporation’ (i.e., most businesses, including most ‘mom and pop’ companies, are incorporated, ergo, they’re corporations).

    Cannabis has been sold illegally for decades by unincorporated businesses, cartels and individuals (who, unlike non black market companies and labor, don’t pay taxes, social security, FICA, etc…on their succor).

    America’s cannabis consumers can no more be supplied by individual producers than America’s food, computer or auto consumers can be supplied by individual producers.

    Corporations in a free market society are not at all inherently nefarious (i.e., NORML, like most all other non-profit organizations, is a ‘corporation’).]

    1. Just when I thought you had enough the last time your “Year of Action” was revealed to be some kind anti-corporate privatized prohibition contradiction, here you are again, trying to convince us that by simply calling marijuana “combusted smoke” all our prohibition problems will float away… Like smoke.
      Why don’t you quit blowing smoke and tell us what kind of definition you have for marijuana legalization if we can’t “publically trade” it, incorporate it, and you seem satisfied with the federal laws’ current definition of hemp? BTW, the only distinction made for hemp research in the farm bill; the CSAct does not distinguish “Cannabis sativa” from industrial to psychoactive strains.
      Seems to me like youre too smart to be tilting at the windmills. What gives? Unfortunately we can’t afford your anti-corporate jargon trying to split votes and maintain some kind of privatized prohibition. Weed for individuals and not the free market is an argument that falls upon itself ever time, every year.

      So why not Take Action by using this web page to support Sanders’ legislation to deschedule marijuana from the CSAct, citizen lobby to let DC consume marijuana in public venues, and then we can all agree to call the herb whatever we want?

  21. The comment was a response to the question, “What’s in a Name?”, but Julian and the Editor just vigorously attacked the reformed definitions which distinguish cannabis from marijuana by defending corporations’ right to grow and sell cannabis. A right that they don’t currently have.

    Cannabis is not listed in Schedule 1, but marijuana is – that’s what’s in a name. The first reformed definition received attacks because commenters found it to be disconcerting. The second reformed definition changed the nature of the debate. The whole idea that cannabis is conflated with marijuana, just got tacit agreement by the experts here because of a limited prohibition on cannabis use that the publicly traded corporations will continue to have but the People will no longer have, if that reform gets enacted. You see? Its perfect. It is not so much anti-Corporate, but it is very much pro-People.

    It becomes clear that cannabis is in Schedule 1 because of publicly traded corporations, not because of its inherent dangerousness. Small corporations are not limited in growing and selling cannabis, just the publicly traded ones. Small businesses could contract with corporations to create efficient market opportunities. Could publicly traded corporations grow it better than small corporations? Could they offer better benefits and wages by increasing prices? Could they offshore their profits while keeping Americans desperate and poor? Its just a plant with many uses.

    Thanks for the arguments, guys! Now, maybe we can figure out how to get the populace to become involved in the debate about marijuana reform. That’s what “NORML” means, right?

    Here are some links for reference:

    See the existing federal definition of marijuana here:

    Additional uses for the plant Cannabis sativa L. are in Sec.7606 on page 264:

    [Editor’s note: “It becomes clear that cannabis is in Schedule 1 because of publicly traded corporations, not because of its inherent dangerousness.”

    Rather than allow your anti-corporate bias incorrectly dictate your view of the history of cannabis prohibition in America, you might want to consider first better educating yourself.

    For example, consider reading the actual documented history of modern cannabis prohibition (when the BNDD became the DEA and the Marijuana Tax Act became the CSA) via Dan Baum’s well researched book Smoke and Mirrors. Lots of nefarious characters, but corporations played little to no substantive role in what are today’s anti-drug laws, including the ones against cannabis.

    The progenitors of cannabis prohibition under the CSA were largely law enforcement, a relatively small group of physicians and even fewer military officials tasked by the Nixon Administration to come up with new drug policies and federal bureaucracies to deal with them (i.e., DEA, NIDA, etc…).]

    1. Not a substantive role? Dupont Corp. wanted to use oil to make nylon to replace hemp. Hearst Corp. used yellow journalism to spread fear about marijuana, to use its timber, instead of hemp, for newspapers. Maybe they didn’t write the laws, but they helped in their own way. Anslinger worked for the Treasury Dept. when he ran the Bureau of Narcotics. These people knew each other outside of government, as they joined in the common cause of marijuana prohibition. Racism was more common then, so they called it “marihuana”.

      Your quoted comment above is poor phrasing, sorry about that. The better phrasing is, “It becomes clear that cannabis is in Schedule 1 because of the government’s desire to inhibit runaway greed by publicly traded corporations, not because of its inherent dangerousness.”

      Agreed, that government players had the substantive role. A greed that the corporations are bound to have, was there in the background in the decisions that lawmakers made as Keynesian economics came into being. By originally prohibiting cannabis from everyone, the newly created corporate “persons” would be included, and government agencies could regain the power that the repealed alcohol prohibition had given them. When that prohibition was declared unconstitutional, that same greed was in the background of the decisions of lawmakers when the Commerce clause was used to justify the Nixonian prohibition that we still have. Let’s just deal with that greed up front, substantively, and explicitly, while restoring Constitutional rights to the People.

      Cannabis has always had industrial and medical value. The People should benefit from that, not be terrorized by its prohibition. The publicly traded corporations won’t be terrorized by their limited prohibition from growing and selling cannabis. They may actually find value in it as government shrinks by some substantial amount.

      [Editor’s note: Again, you’d benefit from reading well written and edited history (rather than relying on unedited text written by a head shop owner). Your adoption of the ‘grand cannabis conspiracy’ involving DuPont, Hearst and Anslinger is unfortunate because it simply didn’t happen.

      Cannabis was made illegal in states by 1912…no DuPont, no Hearst, no Anslinger…and no ‘greedy’ corporations. No economic conspiracies that wood or nylon interests were manipulating or even advocating for the creation of cannabis prohibition. However, there was lots of ignorance, ethnocentrism and propaganda from law enforcement.

      Concern about a cannabis conspiracy that was not over eight decades ago when the actual and relevant law that everyone lives under is the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is not at all helpful in advancing knowledge and modern law reforms.

      It is supremely helpful in reforming cannabis laws to know what the history of cannabis actually is. For those who’re willing to invest the time/energy into learning such there are excellently researched and edited texts published by objective publishers:

      1) Marihuana Reconsidered and 2) Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine by Lester Grinspoon, MD (Harvard Medical Press and Yale Press respectively)

      Marijuana Conviction, by Richard Bonnie (Univ of VA Law) and Charles WhiteHead (USC Law)

      American Disease, David Musto, MD (Yale)

      Origins of Marijuana Prohibition in California, Dale Gieringer, Ph.d (Harvard/Stanford)

      Lastly, ‘dealing with the greed upfront’ bespeaks your pretty clear bias against apparently anything ‘corporate’, however, to believe that corporations themselves are greedy, inherently misses the point that corporations are owned/managed by people, who may in fact be greedy. Hoping to legislate against ‘greed’, a human fault, is even greater government folly than trying to prohibit cannabis.

      Good luck with that.

      NORML’s primary concern is ending cannabis prohibition (in doing so, not broadcasting irrelevant and erroneous conspiracy theories), not trying to regulate and/or dictate human failings or morality.]

      1. Great points and references from the editor, thanks.

        Y’know Year of Action, I have to say when I first started posting on this website years ago I was a bit confused myself about the whole Anslinger conspiracy with Dupont starting prohibition, then petroleum based nylon over cellulosic hemp oil and Hearst and the whole forestry department thing… Interesting stuff… But even if those were the true motivations of early prohibition, as a good editor once pointed out to me, the marijuana Stamp Act of 1937 was declared unconstitutional in 1969, just before the current Controlled Substances Act of 1970 was signed into law by President Nixon. We could take it back to the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 to decipher racist conspiracies.
        … and I’ll admit it sure is interesting to follow the drama behind these early laws, wars and the subsequent black market.

        But you’re either missing a major point or dodging it on purpose; making corporations the enemy of legalization is counterproductive and is a stall tactic of prohibitionists like Project SAM. Even the corporations that profit today off of prohibition with proper investment could find a way to profit off of legalization if marijuana were descheduled tomorrow. Ive been to my state capital and lobbied and I can tell you from experience that it’s Sherriff’s Associations more than any corporate lobby that is paying and pressuring our Congressman to maintain prohibition using our tax dollars to boot. Look, I’ll be the first guy in this blog linking Big Pharma and alcohol industry money to DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz but in order to change our misguided Congressman and the CSAct, not publically traded corporate investors in the emerging marijuana industry.
        Prohibiting private corporations from buying and selling marijuana is still prohibition. Its not even the perfect getting in the way of the good, it’s just privatized prohibition getting in the way of legalization.

      2. Corporations are not enemies of legalization, they will benefit from reforming the definition to deschedule cannabis, because prohibition of the plant disappears. Only certain activities with the plant will remain prohibited.

        Smoking the plant remains prohibited due to its temporary placement in Schedule 1, but since the reformed definition does conform to the Necessary and Proper clause, that definition can be rescheduled. The text of the current definition of marijuana is why everyone faces cannabis prohibition, and why, after much effort, it has never been rescheduled. Ask a judge. …Mueller…Mueller…

        Publicly traded corporations are at this time prohibited from growing and selling the plant Cannabis sativa L. The reformed definition does not change that. Is the federal government suddenly prohibited from prohibiting publicly traded corporations from growing and selling the plant Cannabis sativa L.?

        As you can see, it is just a reform, not a repeal, not a rescheduling, of the text of the definition of marijuana which will restore people’s rights under the Constitution. That reform will gain to NORML the opportunity to lobby for the publicly traded corporations, to restore their right to grow and sell cannabis. Probably a much more lucrative endeavor. The Editor’s objections to the reformed definition make it appear that they have already begun.

        There is no stasis envisioned by the reformed definition being enacted, more of a controlled re-entry. Like the Editor showed, there are many agencies that will have to be re-purposed due to marijuana legalization. That shouldn’t happen overnight, but it should happen with respect to the guidance of our Constitution. Tell that to the Sheriffs.

      3. Sigh…
        Still on planet smoke, aren’t you Year?
        Got news for you, unless you’re donating to NORML PAC the only people lobbying for anything are US. So if you really want to Take Action, click on the Take Action link, pick any one of the several introduced bills to legalize cannabis introduced into Congress by a Congressman like Bernie Sanders, especially at the local level, or vote them out if they won’t reform. Because if reading this blog has taught me anything, its that we don’t make reform by prohibiting smoke and allowing people to continue to go to jail while you make your hemp harvest… If we are going to settle with a Congressman over any legislation that can be improved, than The focus with NORML will begin with letting our prisoners free, and turning our prisons into schools.

      4. Prohibition will not”disapear” by calling marijuana “smoke.”
        Enough with the smoke and mirrors, its distracting and counterproductive. Take Action, Year, and lets deschedule marijuana.

      5. Every year is a good year to keep marijuana reform from revokin,
        But some of us are still chokin on words like smokin
        The bottom line is do the time yourself
        For what we’re tokin
        If you think it best to smoke-arrest
        The system is still broken
        So take the words youve spoken
        To some street thug in Hoboken
        In the blood of Christ be soakin
        Outlaw the smoke? You must be jokin…

  22. The botanical name is Cannabis. That is a beautiful and unique name, followed by Sativa or Indica. I consider the term marijuana slang. Nothing right or wrong with that. But the botanical name is Cannabis. It’s accurate. I agree with everything else in your article.

  23. I have to admit, you guys seem to be helping a lot in getting it legalized; and you do have MJ in your NORML acronym. Calling it MJ seems to work for the time being: owning a word the opposition used to demonize it. That being said, it is THEIR term in English; although Mexico’s or elsewhere originally, of course. I don’t think we should ultimately call it that.

    I’ve been trying to come up with its correct name in English, and this is what I get: “hemp foliage”. Were I to say hemp (which is the correct name for the plant), then rope and the plant’s fiber is also brought to mind. Were I to say “hemp buds”, not all of interest is buds. “Hemp foliage” is the greenery, not necessarily green; but not the stems, roots nor seeds. G. Washington would have known it as hemp. Were he shown a MJ plant, he would have said, “Ahhh, hemp!” – very likely even after its psychoactive properties were explained. I think the term could ultimately give us some closure. The many other names it is known by are also either foreign words, or slang.

  24. Education to dispel the myths of the political fuck heads who brainwashed generations of Americans is what I think is needed most. I hold a responsible public position in my community. I help a lot of people daily with technical and political issues, and I take any opportunity to educate my neighbors on the benefits to legalization. If your neighbors view you as anything but a stoner, you can probably help our cause by learning the key facts and some references to back up your facts, and discussing legalization with them.

  25. Okay I totally understand your viewpoint here but I think I can speak for the opposing side of the topic here. I has been verified in a multitude of cannabis documentaries that the term “marijuana” was specifically chosen when the Drug War launched so that the sound of the term to the people would sound spanish. This was done so that the slander and propoganda would spread from black jazz communities to mexican migrant workers as well, who also truthfully used the drug. Studies show today that blacks and whites consume at about the same rate, noted in many arguments versus American Crime System of Justice to then question the arest rates in terms of race. So, I think that what the argument is, simply put the fact that they government chose “marijuana” on a racist basis, is the reason why we should not use it as a fair and equal community of consumers. It is known that the term used is usually associated with a “click”. Pot is mainly used in white surburbia. Weed is common among black communities, arguably now the most popular, grass by hippies, dope by drunk fathers that like Nixon, and marijuana by the government. Reagan used this fact to target all groups of consumers “Marijuana, pot, grass, whatever you wanna call it, is probably the most dangerous drug in the United States”. So we know that words mean something, but just how much? A poll would have to be done about terminology of marijuana vs cannabis and see if there are negative reactions in one vs the other. I bet in a very specific age group there will be. So dont attack the poor person who suggested to not use the term marijuana any more. They were just thinking in the extreme.

    [Editor’s note: Yep…it does not really matter what the product is called…as long as ‘it’ is illegal, the work of reform is far more important and relevant than the distraction of pure semantics.]

  26. Agreed, changing the name will not us and we need to re-educate the public about so many things. But we also need to change the imagery of marijuana. We need to go back to showing people that we are talking about a plant and we have to show that. For this reason I have created a limited photo art series of marijuana. You can find it here:

  27. Money makes the world go round. When the powers that be realize the profit to be made, legalization will occur. Maybe we should stop “riding the buses” like the civil rights movement did in the 60s. 4/20/16 is coming up soon, which multinational corporation should we boycott till it’s legal? When their profit goes down they will align theirselves ( and their lobbyists ) to our cause.

  28. We can’t have another Ohio debacle. This has to come through the people for the people. The big boys can compete in an open market. If Marijuana is only legal for the big boys to grow we still lose! No matter what you call it. That name won’t be QUALITY! !!

  29. @Galileo Galilei “Those who ignore the science”? The science was really squashed and covered up with lies, more than ignored. Because the people who had their money in Petroleum based products, were threatened by Hemp’s versatility. The DuPont’s, William Randolph Hearst and many oil investors, as well as Big pharma, the Alcohol industries, and tobacco companies didn’t want Marijana legal for obvious reasons, as usual, it involved fear and most prominently greed. We have to do what Keith said to do, expose the reasons Marijuana was criminalized. We are living in a great time in history. We are so fortunate to be witnessing the time we are living ing. I believe we are witnessing the next renaissance. The Marijuana Renaissance, which is a wonder to behold. I tell people all the time how our greedy adversaries used propaganda to protect their money, and they are amazed, as well as I at how ignorant and gullible they have been. To some of us, it is very obvious but others are blinded by the lies. I don’t think they are ignoring the Science. The History of Marijuana is an interesting and climatic one and worth investing time looking at. Here is a link to a Marijuana timeline from 2900 BC.

  30. Kieth Stroup, or what ever you call a legal converstaion about marijunia, a childs garden of grass, a politcal arguement that can lead to
    the implication of the Law, federal,municipal,
    an Rick James pass the joint!where skipping music just for today , class sister mary elephant-politcal satire, i like the aspect of NORMAL charters an agreements an by the way
    why let Mr.Allien Pierre go from Quebec`!

  31. You are so wrong on so many points. The federal government brainwashed the public using the term marijuana. You state it yourself. Calling it cannabis is DEFINITELY a step in the long battle. You should go relearn history of where the term comes from. And by the way, it was called cannabis FIRST. That’s the name found on drug bottles from the 20s and 30s. So glad we have the internet know to dispell fools like you. #CallItCannabis #IgnoreFools

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