Is Marijuana Racist?
Is Marijuana Racist?

Is Marijuana A Racist Term?

Are You A Racist If You Say Marijuana Instead Of Cannabis?

Posted by:
Reginald Reefer on Wednesday Apr 13, 2016

Why Marijuana isn’t a Racist Term


Is the Word "Marijuana" a Racist Term? from CannabisNet on Vimeo.


I have heard time and time again by many cannabis activists that the word “Marijuana” is racist. Their reasoning isn’t too far off; however, they do operate under a false premise. It is true that marijuana is a word that was made famous by Randolph Hearst and Harry Anslinger and in many cases had some seriously racist connotations attached to it…it still doesn’t make it racist. 



The Origins of Racist Marijuana


For most people who share the idea that marijuana is a racist term, they would refer to the period of Reefer Madness, where the word was used as scare tactics to a way more ignorant/racist America. Blacks and Mexicans were often the ‘cautionary’ tale associated with cannabis consumption. 



Here’s a few quotes from Anslinger on Marijuana and Blacks;


“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”

“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”...the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races. ​


As you can see, Anslinger doesn’t hide his disdain for other races and specifically had issues with black folk. Seeing that America was still in the prime of “lynch season”, the narrative resonated with the white majority that didn’t put up a fight to keep cannabis legal…mainly because they thought “marijuana” was something else. 


Nonetheless, it is rhetoric like this that gives the idea to cannabis activists that marijuana is a “racist term” however, the truth of the matter is that long before the word ‘marijuana’ came to the US, it was used frequently by Mexicans below the border. 



Marijuana – A Slang word


Mexicans didn’t think of marijuana as a “bad thing”. It has been cited that soldiers in the Mexican army would get high before going into battle, to give them courage and what not. Even the song “La Cucaracha” has a verse dedicated to marijuana. It was very much a part of the culture. 


Mexicans used the word “Marijuana” to describe cannabis, just like Jamaicans use the word “Ganja” and Americans the word “weed”. The racial aspects were inserted by the fathers of prohibition but in essence, the word is not tainted with racist rhetoric. 


You can’t call something racist that truly isn’t. It’s a plant. Sure, those who conspired to make it illegal were racist douche bags that played on the dimwitted ideology of Americans in the early 1900s, but that doesn’t make the word racist. Saying marijuana doesn’t offend a “race” or doesn’t denigrate a “race”. It merely refers to a plant. 


If you think marijuana is racist, that is because you have “accepted the premise of Anslinger” to be true. It reflects on your own views on the connection between a plant and a particular demographic. For the rest of us…marijuana refers to cannabis and nothing more.



Reclaiming stolen words


The cannabis community ignored the racial slurs and made the word their own. The word marijuana isn’t racist…but the system that maintains its illegality definitely is. That is the true issue you should be focusing on. Whether someone calls cannabis marijuana or whacky weed is irrelevant…the fact that minorities are arrested at higher rates than their white counterparts should be the real issue of concern. 


Therefore, I beg you...cannabis activist…get mad at the real issues and not fictitious problems that affect absolutely no one. 


Racism is a very real thing in the United States. There is definitely need to reform law enforcement, the justice department and prohibition as a whole…however don’t get blindsided by bickering over the insignificant issues within this dilemma. 


Racism festers in the hearts of people…not on the name of a plant.





is marijuana a racist word




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