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Cannabis, Marijuana, Pot – What’s in a name? | The NORML Stash Blog

I am the producer of The NORML Network, the host of the NORML SHOW LIVE and The NORML Stash Blog, and NORML's Outreach Coordinator. I'm married, live in Portland, Oregon, and I am a registered medical marijuana caregiver in this state. I've worked days as an IT geek and nights as a professional musician. Previously, I have been the host of my own political talk radio show on satellite radio. I've been the High Times "Freedom Fighter of the Month" and I travel across the country to educate people on marijuana reform. I've dedicated my life to bringing an end to adult marijuana prohibition and re-legalizing cannabis hemp, and I'm honored to be chosen by NORML to give voice to the Marijuana Nation and to speak for those who can't speak up.

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12 responses to “Cannabis, Marijuana, Pot – What’s in a name?”

  1. Paradym


    Lazy editing showing. Should be:

    “High-On: Inhale directly into your head. High-On: Inhale directly into your head. High-On: Inhale directly into your head.”


  2. Paradym

    Here’s my take:

    Cannabis is the correct, albeit technical, term.
    Hemp I use when referring to the industrial, non-psychoactive version.
    Marijuana is the common term, although the reason for its commonness is based in racism.
    Herb and Green seem a little too “hippie-dippy” to me.
    Pot is easiest to say, but seriously… where the f*** did that come from? And it has a derogatory ring to it.
    Weed is slightly worse than Pot.
    Unless you’re from Jamaica or are a Rastafarian, Ganja comes off as pretentious.
    Sinsemilla, Skunk, Chronic, etc. I thought all referred to specific types of strains.
    I’ve wanted to use Tea of Kief, as they sound more dignified and are a bit cryptic, but then I would probably sound pretentious again.

    So perhaps we need to come up with yet another term? A lover of wine is an oenophile, so maybe a lover of cannabis is a cannabiphile… cannaphile…? That might be corny, too. Wine drinkers aren’t Sippers (or Gulpers, or Swillers), so Toker is out.

    A term I heard first in the mid west is High-On, as in “She’s getting her High-On”, “She’s a High-On”. That only makes me think of a possible commercial, “High-On: Inhale directly to into your head. High-On: Inhale directly to into your head. High-On: Inhale directly to into your head.”

  3. Herbalicious

    You make some really good points. When naming my organization I agonized over the word “marijuana” vs. “cannabis”. I wanted to use the word “cannabis” because it’s the medical/scientific word but then I realized that most people don’t search for “cannabis”, they search for “marijuana”.

    So the name is Medical Marijuana Media and I use the word “cannabis” far more than “marijuana” on the site.

    I figured if people cannot find me, I cannot help them. I also added a page on my site which explains my choice: http://www.medicalmarijuanamedia.com/cannabis-vs-marijuana.html

    “Marijuana” has so much racist baggage to it, I really don’t like it at all…but some people don’t even know what cannabis is. Today I had someone ask me what the “medical cannabis movement” is…and I had to ask if they knew what “cannabis” was. She was embarrased to admit she didn’t. I told her it’s the medical name for marijuana.

  4. Purple_Hazee

    BUT i live in OHIO and i use BUD constantly…… it might just be using it because i’m used to growers terms……. but i always say “Thats some good bud” ” I also say “thats some skunky bud!” ….. its a good thing. :-P

  5. Purple_Hazee

    hmmmmmm i use all these words…. and i wouldn’t like to see any of them stop being used. I like the word stoner because like the kotton mouth kings song “I’m Proud To Be A Stoner” i am, But i always use cannabis when talking to non-tokers. I also like the diffrence between toker, stoner, and pothead. oooooo cant forget the growers lol. :cool:

  6. The Bluzguy

    I didn’t mind using the word marijuana until I found out the Anslinger/Hearst collaboration is the generally accepted source of the term. When I discovered that marihuana was virtually unheard of before the mid-1930s, I decided to use the word cannabis to remind myself and relate to others my distaste for the legacy those two left.

    But I must agree with Russ that marijuana is a term most easily recognized by everyone, and its use is a necessary evil when trying to communicate with the masses.

    Pot and weed are words used generously by opponents to make cannabis sound like a lower class type of substance. They are words I don’t mind using among friends, but I never use them when talking to non-tokers or writing articles on the issue To me, it’s like calling alcohol “hootch”.

    Toker is a friendlier term than pothead or stoner. Consumers of alcohol tend to prefer calling themselves drinkers, not booze hounds or drunkards. While it is true that people smoke cannabis to get stoned, drinkers drink to get drunk. Both like to say they “get a buzz”, but the fact is they get stoned or drunk, regardless of the level of either they get.

    I must add my distaste for folks who post items on the STASH proclaiming how high they are at the moment. Who cares? Are these posts intended to impress? Sure, I’m happy for you if you can enjoy indulging, but I don’t necessarily need a status report.

    Besides, such rantings are perfect for those opposing cannabis law reform. They present a picture of what opponents claim will be widespread behavior if legal access is granted. Most folks don’t mind being around someone who is drinking, but nobody likes being around a drunk. It’s spitting hairs, but then again, it’s those hairs that give opponents the fuel to fire up efforts (too many metaphors?).

    So behave, tokers. While you enjoy recreational cannabis, do so with some dignity, otherwise you are simply perpetuating the stereotype that proves what the opposition is saying is true. Legalize, and society will be inundated with potheads and stoners, not simply consumers and tokers.

  7. McD

    You know this is strange, because: a) I’m a great lover of cannabis, and b) that word is very, very rarely used here, but I do use it sometimes, although I understand and agree with all the reasons not to, Funnily enough, I think it’s a throwback to my childhood in America.

  8. Don Fitch

    Just don’t call it dope.

  9. McD

    I’ve just seen this post having made a comment about language in reply to another post: http://stash.norml.org/uk-number-of-cannabis-factories-found-by-police-rises-sharply. I should have read this one first.

    Not much to add, just to let you know what we use on this side of the pond (in the UK, England in particular, and some other parts of Europe):

    ‘Resin’ is the most common word for hashish. Some years ago, when I was young, there was very little herbal cannabis (what you would call ‘marijuana’) in Europe. The vast majority of cannabis we saw was hashish. We would rarely use the word ‘hash’, but they use it in Holland, although they use it less now than they used to; probably because production and use of herbal cannabis has become so much more common. Personally I use the word ‘hashish’ for example with my mother, but I’d probably use ‘resin’ with contemporaries. I might say ‘hash’ for emphasis, irony, when being facetious or to make it stand out in the sentence for some other reason.

    ‘Green’ is probably the most common word for herbal cannabis.

    ‘Herb’ (the ‘h’ is pronounced) is used by kids, I believe.

    ‘Sinsemilla’ (sometimes pronounced ‘sense’ or ‘sensi’) used to be common when I was younger, but I think it’s less common now. I haven’t actually lived in the UK for some years (I live in another European state now and try to spend as much time as possible in the Netherlands.) so my authority, particularly about what words kids use, is a bit shaky.

    ‘Skunk’ is used by a robot which churns out media reports. Other than politicians, who don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about, (Obviously!) I don’t think humans use it. (Are politicians human? Do they have endocannabinoid systems?) Oh, perhaps that’s not quite right, because seed banks use it in writing, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say it. I certainly wouldn’t.

    ‘Blow’ might be old-fashioned now, but we used to use it all the time.

    ‘Gear’ is synonymous with ‘blow’ and (used to be) equally common.

    ‘Bud’ I don’t like personally and, unlike my aversion to the word ‘skunk’ which I know is caused by politicians and mediabots, I don’t really know why. Other than growers using it for technical accuracy, I don’t think many people use it. I can’t imagine anyone saying, ‘I’ve got some good bud.’ or ‘Would you like to try my bud.’ If someone did say that to me, cannabis would not be the first thing to spring to mind.

    ‘Ganja’ is used by quite a few people, but I think it rather ties them to a particular social sphere. This is probably the same in the States. Personally, I wouldn’t use it unless I was talking to someone who already had.

    We don’t use the words ‘marijuana’ or ‘pot’, which I think is a good thing. Recently, because of the sudden increase in media attention and cannabis-ignorant journalists plagiarising reports from the Americas, they have begun to crop up now and then.

  10. Bud Green

    It’s nice to see this shout-out to the importance of word choice, especially as it pertains to advocacy and building respect for cannabis itself. Too often, reporters and headline writers resort to cliches when dealing with the subject, and that antiquated language doesn’t help raise the level of informed debate.

    On the other hand, after 20 years in the newspaper biz, I don’t like it when special-interest groups attempt to sanitize the English language or use it as an enforcement tool for political correctness. Whatever the writer’s intent, readers are the ones who ultimately decide whether “pothead,” “toker” and other vague terms are positive, negative or somewhere in between.

    As more writers gravitate to the subject and the marijuana media market matures, something resembling a style guide will emerge. This column is a positive step in that direction.

  11. dmunkey

    I personally prefer the title “Cannabis Connoisseur” or “Marijuana Aficionado” myself. :-D

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