Is ‘marijuana’ a racist word?

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It’s known by a lot of different names — pot, weed, bud — but perhaps the most common one is marijuana. There’s much discussion going on lately about whether the word marijuana is racist or not.

It’s not a silly discussion; hear me out.

Back in the early 1800s when the cannabis plant was coming over the border from Mexico, people in the United States, unfamiliar with what it was, called it by the name that the Mexicans had given it – marijuana (which literally means Mary Jane.)

Over the years as the plant grew in popularity and was used in various products, the Mexican name remained. It was certainly easier than using the established hoity-toity Latin name for the plant – cannabis.

Hey, do you have any cannabis?


It wasn’t until the “reefer madness” days that the term marijuana became synonymous with the drug of black and brown people. And if you don’t think it’s true, look at the number of black and brown people in prison to this day for marijuana possession and then look at how many white people are in prison for it.

By continuing to use the term marijuana people are perpetuating the idea that cannabis is a black and brown people’s drug. It’s a way for people to unconsciously blame others for perceived problems from the use of the plant.

Not cool.

It’s one of those things that when you see it, you can’t unsee it. I see it and it’s why you will never hear me call the plant by anything other than its proper name — cannabis.

Because in the end, that’s exactly what it is.

Wendy E. N. Thomas is a candidate for the New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough County, District 21. She is also in the NH Therapeutic Cannabis program. She agrees with the state-wide Democratic platform of legalizing cannabis in New Hampshire, she would also like to see the Therapeutic Cannabis program expanded to include Anxiety, Lyme Disease, and insomnia (for starters.)

Wendy also understands that people need to know about what cannabis can do, how to keep it away from children, and how to use it responsibly (in the same way that the alcohol industry talks about responsible drinking.)

All opinions reflected in this article and any future articles on the Democratic cannabis platform are the opinions of Candidate Thomas and do not reflect any company or industry.

She works at Prime ATC in Merrimack as a Patient Liaison. The contents of this article are not sanctioned by Prime ATC or any of its affiliates. Contact Thomas at .