What’s the difference between marijuana and cannabis?
As someone who’s been in the cannabis industry for nearly 20 years, this is one of those questions that gets forwarded to the department of redundancy. However, due to cannabis’ mainstream attention as both a medicine and a recreational drug and the many conflicting messages about it, it’s important that industry experts set the record straight.
The simple answer to above question is ‘nothing.’
There is no difference between marijuana and cannabis. It is only semantics.
“Cannabis” is the scientific name of the plant. “Marijuana” is the Mexican Spanish version of the same word.
It is the same as “dog”, “canine”, and “perro.” All these words mean “dog”, they are just different languages.
The cannabis industry uses ‘cannabis’ because it is the real, English word for the plant. Not only is ‘marijuana’ Mexican slang, but the word also conjures negative connotations. Unfortunately, many people still use ‘medical marijuana’ so you will continue to see this verbiage because we need potential clients to be able to find us. That’s why you see us switching between ‘cannabis’ and ‘marijuana.’ We would only use ‘cannabis’ if it were prudent from a marketing and advertising perspective.
Now that we know that cannabis and marijuana is the same thing, let’s move on to a more controversial distinction…
The difference between medical cannabis and cannabis.
And the short answer is….nothing.
The long answer is…A LOT.
The process of cultivating, drying, curing and using medical cannabis is the same as it is for cannabis. However, from a legal perspective, the difference is night and day. For instance, in California, only medical cannabis is legal. Any other use or cultivation is illegal.
Some consider strains of cannabis with no psychoactive effects as medical and psychoactive strains as recreational. This is an incorrect. Because of our human endocannabinoid systems, all cannabis is medicinal as is all cannabis use. Because some cannabinoids make you happy, doesn’t mean that this is recreational. As someone with a deep understanding of cannabis pharmacology, it is frustrating hearing this assumption. Using this logic, using antibiotics for strep throat is recreational. Why? Because it feels good not have strep throat. But I digress…back to the difference of medical cannabis and cannabis.
I believe that this distinction arose to appease conservative legislators who want to advocate for medical cannabis. It is much easier to sell a non-psychoactive compound to uninformed constituents. I am guilty of this. I have given many presentations explaining that not all strains of cannabis will cause a high. I also remind people who if you eat cannabis without heating it, you will get medicinal value without getting high.
Not all of my contemporaries appreciate that we are telling people the truth, but it’s easier that way. My friend’s grandfather once told me, “Dan, if you always tell the truth, then you don’t have to remember anything you say. And with how much you talk, I don’t think you can remember everything that comes out of your mouth.” It took me a second to understand what he meant, but it turned out to be some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.
Back to medical cannabis versus cannabis. I believe all use of cannabis is medical, or at the very least, therapeutic. Responsible use is good for the human body and brain.
I guess the easiest way to find out the difference between ‘cannabis use’, ‘medical cannabis use’, and ‘recreational cannabis use’ is to ask the user. They’ll usually tell you right away.
By: Daniel Macris, founder and ceo of Halcyon Organics.
© Halcyon Organics 2014
Originally published Sep 16, 2014 @ 20:45