Why There are So Many Names for Marijuana

The plant has been given many names in the past, but it is now more commonly known as marijuana. The word ‘marijuana’ is taken from the Mexican Spanish word “marihuana”.

The term “cannabis” is derived from the Latin word for hemp, which comes from the Greek word “kanabos”.

The term “hemp” comes from Old English and is related to other Germanic words that mean strong and coarse.

Understanding the Origins of Different Names for the Plant

Not all plants are responsible for the various nicknames or slang used for marijuana. The widespread use of cannabis across the world has led to the various names for the plant, whether it is Mary Jane or pot. Some names have stemmed from the historical journey of the plant and its usage while the origin of some names is still a mystery.

In fact, the commonly used name for cannabis, marijuana, is believed to be associated with the prohibition of the plant in the early 20th century USA, as well as the racism built around it.

Before we decode the word marijuana as well as other names, it is important to understand the origin of the cannabis word.

Why the Word Cannabis is Used for the Plant

Every name or slang used for cannabis is attributed to the culture and languages of the part of the world where it has been used. No wonder why there are so many names for the plant.

The word cannabis is a Thracian or Scythian word that was later borrowed by the Persians and changed into “kanab”.

It was the Greeks who changed it into “kánnavis”. Later, it turned into cannabis in Latin. Interestingly, Chinese people were said to be the first ones to mention cannabis in writing. The plant was used across the world. Egyptians used the plant for treatment while the ancient Hebrews called it “kaneh bosem”.

Untitled 5 Why There are So Many Names for Marijuana


How the Word Marijuana Originated

While cannabis can be an ancient term, the word marijuana is associated with controversies and modern use.

Marijuana was originally derived from the Spanish word “marihuana” or “mariguana”. It was not until 1910 that the term was used in the USA. While we are not sure about the term marijuana, historians accredited Mexican immigrants for introducing Americans to the recreational use of cannabis in the early 20th century.

Initially, the recreational use of cannabis was allowed. But it was 1913, and the production of cannabis was banned, paving the way of the complete prohibition in the backdrop of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Interestingly, the Great Depression was also seen as the oppression of Mexicans and other immigrants settled in the USA.

The term marijuana is said to become common in the USA due to the propaganda run by the political and racial lobbies to ban cannabis. Sure, the term marijuana is still in practice.

Why is Cannabis Also Called Pot?

So how did marijuana get the name pot?

Pot is said to be originated from the Spanish words “potiguaya” or “potaguaya,” and become a common slang term in the U.S. during the 1930s and 1940s. It is also worth mentioning that these terms were applied to a Spanish wine or brandy known as potación de guaya which has also cannabis buds as one of its ingredients.

The term means “the drink of grief.” Maybe it was used for a teapot being used to make cannabis-infused tea.

And What’s the Story of the Term Weed?

The word weed is used for uncultivated, unwanted plants. It was the same word that has been used for weed since the 20th century.

Historians say that weed is the shortened version of the term “locoweed”, which grows in Mexico. It is used to feed cattle and horses, although it would have a strange impact on them. Although this plant is different from cannabis, the word was often interchangeably to refer to both plants in the backdrop of the passing of the Cannabis law in 1913.

Cannabis is also Called Hemp. Why?

You may have heard individuals call marijuana or cannabis “hemp.” But are they equivalent?

Although connected to the Germanic term “hanf” and the Dutch word “hennep,” hemp is derived from the Old English words “henep” or “haenep.”

Technically speaking, there is only one little distinction between hemp and cannabis plants. Although they have a similar appearance and fragrance, hemp has a lower concentration of the psychotropic ingredient THC than cannabis. Therefore, hemp is utilized for a range of textile characteristics, whereas cannabis is employed for its medical properties.

Since marijuana and hemp are both members of the same species, the word “hemp” is normally reserved for actual hemp plants or products.

Why Mary Jane is Used for Cannabis?

The term Mary Jane is owed to the article published in the 1943 TIME magazine issue. But there is still confusion over the origin of the term. Many people believe that Mary Jane is the English version of the Spanish term “Maria Juana” used for the word marijuana. This slang also lacks an authentic source.

Hash? Another Slang for Cannabis….

Hash is another slang for the plant. It is derived from the Arabic word “hashish” which means grass.

The sticky glands on the surface of the marijuana plants are used to make hash, a refined form of cannabis. Cannabis farmers collect this substance on their hands, which is subsequently crushed into blocks known as a hash. As a result of European discovery in Africa, the western world got to familiar with this form of cannabis in the wake of the 19th century.

The term “hash” should only be used to describe the compacted block form of cannabis because it refers to a separate type of cannabis.

Hope this piece of information has helped you understand the different names, different slang used for marijuana.

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