How many different names can you come up with for cannabis? Marijuana, ganja, weed, hemp, pot, hashish, bud, herb, kush, reefer…the list goes on and on. In fact, there are more than 1,200 common and slang names used to refer to cannabis and marijuana.
There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the somewhat hazy etymology of the word marijuana itself, as well as its various identities around the globe. The botanical name for the plant is cannabis, derived from the Greek word Kάνναβις (Kánnabis). However, other ancient language names from before the 5th century include Gañjikā in Sanskrit and Ma in Chinese.
Traditional, regional names for the cannabis plant vary, with the English using hemp, which is echoed in other languages such as hampa (Swiss), hanf (German) and hennep (Dutch). In Hindi, it’s called ganja, and in Portuguese, maconha.
The word marijuana wasn’t popularized until the 20th century, although there are different theories as to how that came about, ranging from politics to race and ethnicity. The Mexican-Spanish word, marihuana, could have come from any of three continents: Europe (the Spanish brought it to Mexico to cultivate it for hemp), Asia (Chinese immigrants brought it to Mexico and called it ma ren hua) and Africa (Angolan slaves brought by Portugal to Brazil calling it ma-kaña).
From Cannabis to Marijuana and Back
There is a definite switch in the preferred vernacular use of the plant’s name, from cannabis to marijuana, between the 19th and 20th centuries as the movement to outlaw its consumption gained steam.
Where the word cannabis had been used for medical and scientific purposes and within the textile industry, the switch to the word marijuana, and its following slang terms, became used to connotate its perceived dangers. While both cannabis and marijuana refer to the same plant, their connotation is vastly different.
The return to the use of the word cannabis reflects the many positive effects the plant can offer, both medically and with responsible adult use. Call it what you will, you can count on our knowledgeable staff to answer your questions and help you select the right product for you.