Taboos only exist because we enforce them. With very few exceptions (murder, incest), taboos are cultural constructs. Some of them are laughable. Some of them reinforce ugly stereotypes. In my first book, Small Spaces, Big Yields, I wrote the following:
“I use the words cannabis, marijuana, pot, weed and other terms interchangeably.
A few years back, I was at a town-hall meeting convened to decide dispensary regulation when a well-meaning, but misinformed gentleman stood up to make the point that “marijuana” was invented as a pejorative term in the days leading up to its prohibition 75 years ago. He requested that the Board of Trustees use the word “cannabis” instead. This was not the first time I had heard this argument, nor was it the last.
While it is true that the term “marijuana” was frequently used by detractors because its foreign-sounding origins played upon social prejudices, the word itself comes from Latin-American Spanish and it’s a great word that we all recognize and understand. It’s okay to call cannabis “marijuana.”
Instead of seeing the distaste for the word, “marijuana,” decrease since I wrote these words, I have seen it become more commonplace–among industry professionals and regulators (Illinois, I’m looking at you.) For no good reason. These people, more than any others, should know better. Furthermore, the use of “marijuana” is an appropriate homage to the country that has perhaps suffered the most from its prohibition: Mexico. Shouldn’t the people ending this insanity be embracing this word?