The truth is that the word “cannabis” was largely replaced by the term “marijuana” in the early 20th century due to racist and xenophobic policies and laws aimed at frightening Americans and dividing them. At the time, there was a growing fear and mistrust of Mexican immigrants, who were often associated with the use of marijuana.
In order to stoke these fears and push for stricter drug laws, anti-drug campaigners, including newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, began using the term “marijuana” instead of “cannabis.” This term was intended to play on Americans’ fears and misconceptions about Mexican immigrants and to make the drug seem exotic and dangerous.
As a result of these efforts, laws were passed that made marijuana illegal, and the drug was widely stigmatized and demonized. This had a lasting impact on the perception of marijuana and those who use it and contributed to the ongoing criminalization of the drug and the marginalization of those who use it.
Today, despite the growing acceptance of marijuana and efforts to undo the harm caused by these racist policies and laws, the stigma surrounding cannabis and those who use it continues to persist. It is important to acknowledge and challenge this history, and to work to create a more equitable and just society where everyone is valued and respected, regardless of their use of cannabis or other substances.