Frequently asked questions

Is “cannabis” the same thing as “marijuana”?

Yes, it is, although “cannabis” may be used to refer to hemp-based products and not just psychoactive cannabis (which is often called “marijuana”, “pot”, “weed”, “grass”, “reefer” or many other slang terms). We generally prefer to call medical marijuana “cannabis” and here’s why …

First of all, “cannabis” or Cannabis sativa is a more scientific, less colloquial and more accurate term for the plant. However, many people are more familiar with the term “marijuana”. “Medical cannabis” doesn’t have the alliterative properties of “medical marijuana”, and “marijuana” is still the most commonly-used term for cannabis. We sometimes use the term “marijuana”, as it’s often the word used by many state programs, and can help others understand what we are talking about. This also means that we’ll usually refer to “marijuana” as “cannabis” when using it in a scientific context. “Cannabis” is also slowly becoming the more commonly-used term.

Despite the common usage, there are all sorts of unfortunate negative connotations with the word “marijuana”. The word “marijuana” was used as a propaganda tool in order to fuel the “War on Drugs” stemming from the Prohibition era, often to demonize its users (usually minorities and those with little socioeconomic status). This demonization carried on throughout the 30s, and made concrete in the 70s with the Nixon administration, where . This allowed for the federal government to negate any valuable scientific research associated with cannabis.

However, for the purposes of this FAQ and in order to be properly understood (and found on searches!) throughout our website, we will occasionally refer to “cannabis” as “marijuana” or “medical marijuana”, as it’s a more commonplace term that’s more widely understood and searched-for. Also, we cannot change official terminologies. Many states use terms such as “Medical Marijuana Program” or “Medical Marijuana Card”. Not using such terminology can be confusing for people who do not search for “cannabis”, as well as inaccurate.

You will more often than not see on our blog posts and the like that we refer to “medical marijuana” as “cannabis”, due to it being a more scientifically accurate term. However, this is not always possible. Sometimes, even well-researched scientific studies use the term “marijuana”. There are two options here: either stop using the term “marijuana”, or to “defang” the term so it no longer has negative connotations, in a similar way the word “hemp” has become less negative over the years. Remember: “cannabis” also has negative connotations for many!

So, whilst accurate terminology can help remove some of the negative connotations, perhaps another way to tackle the deeper issues is to get people approaching cannabis rationally and scientifically, rather than politically or ideologically. This way, regardless of the term a person uses to refer to cannabis, it will not be treated with opprobrium.