Cannabis VS Marijuana: Cannabis Industry Terminology 101
Chronic. Ganja. Bud. Mary Jane.
Hundreds of different slang terms and scientific nomenclatures exist for cannabis, but not all carry the same meaning. And while just about any name is appropriate for informal use, businesses in the cannabis industry should be careful about which variations they use.
Certain cannabis terms are ideally suited for business purposes, others are more apt for the scientific, legal, retail, and lifestyle content sectors, and some have no bearing whatsoever in any type of professional setting. By utilizing the correct term, cannabis companies can present the plant, their businesses, and their subsets of the industry in a positive light. The wrong word choice, conversely, can have the opposite effect.
In this article, we sort through the plant’s different names to determine which are best suited to various parts of this new, thriving industry.
The Case for Cannabis
Cannabis is the scientific name for the plant, derived from the Cannabaceae family which also includes hemp, hops, and hackberries.
The use of “cannabis” ties most directly to the scientific community. It has since been adopted by governments and businesses within the context of legal cannabis. Its more professional connotation lends whoever uses it an air of legitimacy, making it the best term for cultivators, retailers, cannabis insurance companies, and most other professional ancillary businesses in the industry.
When cannabis companies that aim to come across as professional and legitimate in their communications use words other than cannabis, they do themselves a disservice. Certain terms can even hurt the image of the cannabis industry by tying it to negative connotations associated with those terms.
Is Marijuana Okay?
The term “marijuana” was first popularized in the 1930s by Harry J. Anslinger, an anti-cannabis figure who helped launch the War on Drugs. The term was initially used to demonize the plant by associating it with Mexican immigrants, but its usage has evolved over time. These days, the term is commonly used in the medical, legal and cannabis reform communities.
If you don’t work in one of the above industries, you should probably stay away from the term because of its derogatory origins and meaning. If you’re looking to convey a sense of professionalism, “cannabis” is your best bet. Those that are looking to engage more laid-back, hip, or irreverent demographics with their content or copy should choose from the myriad slang names for the plant.
Where Does Hemp Fall Onto The Spectrum?
Hemp, a strain of cannabis sativa, is traditionally used for textiles, food, and other industrial purposes. It is one of the first plants that our ancestors used to create clothing, with its origins in agriculture dating all the way back to the Ice Age.
Hemp grows extremely quickly, usually within 60 days, and is an abundant source of CBD (cannabidiol), but the term is not interchangeable with cannabis or marijuana. Hemp does not produce psychoactive effects when ingested because it does not contain much THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). In fact, the FDA has decreed that hemp cannot be sold if it contains more than 0.3% THC.
Referring to cannabis or marijuana as “hemp” is incorrect. Doing so could lessen your credibility within the cannabis industry and confuse your customers and readers. “Hemp” should only be used when referring specifically to hemp or any products that contain it.
Should Cannabis Companies Ever Use Slang?
Alligator cigarettes, astroturf, barney, bread, cabbage, chess, chicken, curly wurly, dak, doobage, dope, DVDs, funky falafel, gangster gumbo, goofy boots, grass, haskell, herb, honey boo boo, Hungarian hummus, Jupiter’s beard, Kevin Bacon, kush, little beasts, moss, party parsley, pot, reefer, smeed, snickle-fritz, sticky-icky, tea, trees, tweed, weed, whacky- tobacky, widdle, and zoot . . . just to name a few.
As you can see, there is an endless, diverse supply of creative slang for cannabis. But unless you are trying to engage a younger and less mainstream audience, or you are trying to market your product in a unique way, we suggest avoiding these terms like the plague.
Brands don’t need to play up or cater to the stoner archetype to be successful. Slang can appeal to marketers as an easy way to relate to cannabis users. Slang terms can further perpetuate cannabis’s stereotypes and stigmatization. By sticking to “cannabis”, or “hemp” where applicable, companies in the legal cannabis industry can project professionalism, legitimacy and prestige.