Cannabis? Weed? Marijuana? Why what we call it matters

Cannabis has more names than any other illicit substance, recreational drug or medicinal plant. Maybe more than all of them put together. Some are botanical (“cannabis sativa”), some steeped in history and discrimination (“marijuana”) and others just good for a giggle (“the devil’s lettuce”). Most are recognizable and get the point across – which is not surprising since an estimated 20% percent of Americans use it at least once a year according to the CDC, and 36 states now have at least a medical cannabis program. 

So does it really matter what we call it? The answer is a resounding “maybe.” Let’s start at the beginning.


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