Weed vs. Cannabis

What’s the difference between weed and cannabis?

Is there a difference? As legalization started to become a reality in the Great White North, I felt like the word cannabis had begun to show up more and more in the national media. I had not really given it much thought until very recently when Forbes magazine asked that very question.

Weed is the common word, the familiar word I’ve used the most ever since I first came into contact with the sweet green plant. Weed, it seems is the most socially acceptable term. You’ll hear comedian Dave Chappelle talk about smoking weed, actor Seth Rogen even joked about weed when he spoke to the U.S. Senate. I bet you it was the last word you used to refer to… weed.

The term Marijuana though popular comes second to weed and carries with it way more baggage. It seems to have become popular during the Great Depression in the 1930s when anti-immigration debates were raging, and smoking it began to be associated with Mexican immigrants. In fact made its first official appearance in the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.

So do these words means something different? No. All of them are terms for a plant full of complex cannabinoids like THC, CBD and CBN. But calling it ‘marijuana’ or ‘weed’ versus ‘cannabis’ does bring to mind different associations, and have their own effects on the perceptions of others.

According to Lauren Yoshiko of Forbes use of the word cannabis comes with a whole different connotation: “It sounds like something that requires a degree of responsibility and esteem, even; ‘cannabis’ doesn’t sound like a habit one ought to outgrow upon adulthood.”

So what’s in a word? Well we’ve established that the word cannabis describes a plant. There might be some rationale behind the apparent rise in the use of the word in the media reports since it is the scientific word used to describe this plant. Cannabis unlike, let’s say “pot” brings up a different set of emotions in the reader. Thinking about it as a plant helps to do away with the associations of illegal contraband and deadend pastime from the past.

So there might be a legitimate reason for the liberal sprinkling of the term in Canadian media. We’ve seen in the past the meaning and power of words transform over periods of time. This might just the beginning of a new paradigm shift as recreational cannabis use slowly creeps into the mainstream consciousness. Maybe cannabis will become the new weed.

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