Couple of substances in the planet have  garnered as lots of nicknames as the Cannabis plant. The note by Mr. G. A. Grierson, appended to the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report, which catalog references to the hemp plant occurring in Sanskrit and Hindi literature, incorporates terms celebrating the spiritually and physically invigorating properties of the herb, such as Indracana, ‘the meals of Indra’, Bhanga and Vijaya or ‘Victory’.

Franz Rosenthal’s study of the use of hemp in medieval Islamic culture and its connected controversies incorporates catalogues of epithets drawn from the lists of medieval Muslim  commentators. These include things like names like, ‘the shrub of understanding’, the shrub of emotion and some names nonetheless in use right now, like the Turkic esrar, or ‘secrets’.

A browse by means of any dictionary of street slang will likewise yield an abundance of terms for Cannabis waxing and waning in recognition by means of the twentieth century from’ gaje’ and ’muggles’ of the Jazz age to the language of modern street culture. Be that as it could, the most recognizable name for the dried buds of the Cannabis plant, and one particular of the handful of older terms nonetheless in use right now, is “ marijuana”.

The Mysterious Origins of the term ‘ Marijuana

The word marijuana comes from Mexican Spanish, Marihuana, also spelled Mariguana. Incredibly tiny is identified about the origin of the Mexican Spanish word but in English the term, ‘ Marijuana’ refers to the assortment of the Cannabis plant with the scientific name, Cannabis Sativa var. Indica. It is the assortment with a higher concentration of the psychoactive compounds in marijuana. On the other hand hemp refers to the assortment of the plant with substantially much less potent important psychoactive properties.

In the Sino-Platonic Papers, published by Alan Piper which delves into the origins of the word, ‘ Marijuana’, he refers to the 1894 Scribner’s Magazine function “The American Congo”, by John G. Bourke as getting the initial attested usage of a term resembling ‘ marijuana’. The word Marijuana, with each other with the use of herbal Cannabis as an intoxicant, is regularly identified as coming into the USA from Mexico, getting purchased there by migrant workers.

Weston T. La Barre in his book, Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany suggests that marijuana could ‘plausibly be derived from a Chinese word for hemp, purchased by Chinese coolie labourers in Western Mexico’. This speculation was rooted in the coincidental presence of phonetic components of Chinese expressions which sound related to the Mexican Spanish, marijuana. For instance ma hua which suggests ‘ hemp flowers’ is attested as a term for the psychoactive preparation of Cannabis by Joseph Needham in his book Spagyrical Discovery and Invention: Magistries of Gold and Immortality, Alchemy and Chemistry, in Science and civilization in China. Ma ren is attested as the common term for Cannabis seed. ‘Ma Ren Hua’ if such a term existed, would imply ‘ hemp seed flowers’, a term which could properly be applied to the resinous ‘flower heads’ prized for their intoxicating powers.

Marijuana, a troubled history

In the early 1900s, the Mexican revolution sparked a convergence of mass migration north and people of Mexican heritage in the United States elevated from 100,000 in 1900 to 1.five million in 1930.

Through this period anti-Mexican sentiments spiked in the U. S fueled by the Illegal Bisbee Deportation in 1917, exactly where armed vigilantes rounded up more than 1000 Mexican mine workers, herded them into filthy boxcars in Bisbee, Arizona and abandoned them across the New Mexico border. Additional the government backed Mexican repatriation in the 1920s and 30s that forced people today of Mexican descent, lots of of whom have been US citizens across the border without the need of due course of action added fuel to currently sour relations amongst Americans and Mexicans. The Fantastic Depression in the course of that period didn’t support the predicament as Americans contended with Mexican ranch workers, who regularly consented to function for reduced compensation.

Against this setting prohibitionists like Henry Anslinger – a former alcohol prohibitionist who ran the federal bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962 – began to use the term “marihuana” ( marijuana) as an alternative of Cannabis sparking preposterous claims about the drug. Anslinger sought and eventually received, as head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, an enhance of reports about smoking of marijuana in 1936 that continued to spread at an accelerated pace in 1937. Prior to, smoking of marijuana had been fairly slight and confined to the Southwest, specifically along the Mexican border. The Bureau initial ready a legislative strategy to seek from Congress a new law that would spot marijuana and its distribution straight beneath federal handle. Second, Anslinger ran a campaign against marijuana on radio, newspapers and at key forums. He was quoted saying, ”Most marijuana smokers are colored people today, jazz musicians, and entertainers. Their satanic music is driven by marijuana, and marijuana smoking by white girls tends to make them want to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and other folks. It is a drug that causes insanity, criminality, and death — the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”

Assisting Anslinger in this spread of misinformation was Media tycoon and newspaper publisher William Hearst who also echoed the identical anti-Mexican sentiments. He was born in San Francisco, California as the only kid of, George Hearst, a self created multimillionaire miner and rancher. In 1887 at the age of 23 he became proprietor of the San Francisco Examiner. Inspired by the journalism of Joseph Pulitzer, Hearst turned the newspaper into a mixture of reformist investigative reporting and uninhibited sensationalism. At his peak he owned 28 newspapers and 18 magazines. He would normally resort to ‘yellow journalism’, the in your face, outrageous editorial style created renowned by Pulitzer. He applied his newspaper chain to regularly stir up racial tensions. Hearst’s newspapers portrayed Mexicans as lazy, degenerate and violent, marijuana-smokers who stole jobs from “real Americans.” Hearst’s hatred of Mexicans and his hyping of the “Mexican threat” to America probably was rooted in the 800,000 acres of timberland that had been confiscated from him by Pancho Villa in the course of the Mexican revolution.

Marijuana – A Foreign Drug

Anslinger applied the term Marijuana to make the plant appear foreign and stoke the currently simmering anti Mexican racism. His purpose was to disassociate Marijuana with Cannabis and in this he succeeded. The common public of the time did not have access to tv or net, just newspapers that normally printed yellow ink, telling them about a new Mexican drug that created people today go crazy. Even people today who took cannabis for medicinal motives turned against the new Mexican menace.

In 1937, Anslinger went prior to the Congressional Approaches and Implies Committee, and testified about marijuana use. Anslinger mentioned, “Some people today will fly into a delirious rage, and they are temporarily irresponsible and could commit violent crimes,” though Doughton named the “menace” an “evil” that created people today “become criminals.” The only particular person who disagreed with these assessments was Dr. William Woodward of the American Healthcare Association who argued against Cannabis prohibition by saying, “I use the word ‘ cannabis’ in preference to the word ‘marihuana’ simply because cannabis is the right term for describing the plant and its merchandise. As noted by the medical doctor in the hearings, people today who embraced marijuana prohibition normally had no concept it had something to do with Cannabis or hemp. Anslinger and his deputies extremely smartly turned the public against Cannabis by popularising the term Marijuana and creating it the enemy though disguising the truth that the prohibitionists wanted to ban Cannabis.

Marijuana – The existing climate

Although a number of states in the US have legalized marijuana and much more are nonetheless to stick to suit, that hasn’t stopped law enforcement from punishing these who personal even negligible quantities of illegal weed. Just after legalization in Colorado, arrests of black and Latino juveniles for illegal possession elevated.

In 2016, there have been virtually 600,000 US marijuana arrests, much more than for all violent crimes combined. The vast majority of these pot arrests have been for low-level possession – and disproportionately impacted minorities. With legalization, some states and communities want to support these carrying minor cannabis convictions to be in a position to clear their record. Similarly, a number of cities and states are attempting to develop so-named equity applications to allow entrepreneurs from communities hit hardest by the war on drugs to join the market.

While the term Marijuana is not inherently Racist, there’s no denying that Cannabis prohibition is rooted in racism, xenophobia and trickery. It is clear that Americans will need to do much more to get rid of the racial divide which to this day nonetheless exists though also distancing themselves from prohibitionists of the previous whose purpose was to spread hatred and dissent amongst the functioning class.


Malcolm Pinto.