Here’s Why We Should Probably Say ‘Cannabis’ Instead of ‘Marijuana’

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Cannabis, it is Cannabis, a plant, a gift from GOD.

Patients for Medical Cannabis

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 1.58.21 AM.pngby Tobias Coughlin-Bogue for The Stranger

Why do we call marijuana marijuana? Growing up, I assumed that “marijuana” was the original Latin name for the plant I discuss every week in this column. But that’s not the case.

Cannabis is its actual name. Cannabis is the genus that contains the three psychoactive plants we love so well: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and their stubby cousin Cannabis ruderalis. However, cannabis is far more commonly referred to as marijuana. Why?

The term “marijuana” came to the United States via Mexico. How it came to Mexico is still a mystery. Scholar Alan Piper made a valiant attempt at its etymology in a 2005 issue of the academic journal Sino-Platonic Papers, but came to the conclusion that it could have come from China, or maybe Spain, or maybe it was already in North America.

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