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

Yes, it is. 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”, however, has less of a ring to it, and “medical marijuana” helps others understand what we are talking about. This means that we’ll usually refer to “marijuana” as “cannabis” when using it in a scientific context.

Second of all, there are all sorts of unfortunate negative connotations with the word “marijuana”. We feel that the word “marijuana” was used as a propaganda tool in order to fuel the “War on Drugs” stemming from the Prohibition era, carried on throughout the 30s, and made concrete in the 70s with the Nixon administration. 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!

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