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Why do some consider the term 'marijuana' racist?

States are passing laws to remove the word “marijuana” from records.

Why do some people think the term marijuana is racist?

As more and more states pass laws legalizing cannabis, lawmakers are also passing legislation to remove the word "marijuana" from their record books. 

In Washington state, the sponsor of a recent law passed to remove the term said the word "marijuana" was “pejorative and racist”. Instead, many states, retailers and industry groups now call it "cannabis."


So where does the racism claim come from? 

In the 19th century, "marijuana" was the common term used for cannabis in Mexico. According to The Atlantic, in the early 20th century, upheaval in Mexico led to a wave of immigrants to the U.S.

With that came claims the migrants were using marijuana. Police officers in Texas claimed it gave them a quote “lust for blood” and “superhuman strength”. Those claims helped anti-drug advocates in the U.S. push for banning the drug.

But according to NPR, the claims of racism are a little less clear cut. 

That’s because Mexico was also cracking down on the drug. It outlawed pot in 1920, 17 years before the American crackdown. 

And according to one historian, the wild stories of marijuana fueled murder and mayhem that circulated in America in the early 20th century actually originated in Mexico. 

So it appears the fear of “reefer madness” existed on both sides of the border.

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Note: The following video was uploaded in January 2022

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