War on Drugs is Racist, Not Marijuana

Marijuana’s True Definition Obscured

The war on drugs is racist, not marijuana. People inside and out of the cannabis industry debate on this term, marijuana. Should marijuana be “cancelled” and replaced with cannabis instead to make conservatives more comfortable?

No, I don’t think so.

Why you ask?


Well, how would we educate those that are unaware of the issues that have come up by using marijuana as one of the major tools during the racist War on Drugs?

Up until 2017 when I went to my first cannabis conference at Women Grow, I also was unaware and clueless of this horrible history. Was I naive? perhaps. However, once I started learning more about this horrendous time in our history that makes most people blind to the reality of it all, I started to understand the larger issues at hand.

The lifetime pain that it caused in black and brown families that was painted as a justice program to save everyone, is appalling. This exact moment sparked a fury inside me and made me want to help those that were affected by the systemic racism caused by the War on Drugs.

If this wasn’t ever brought to my attention I would have never known. If we continued to only use the overall term cannabis to describe both hemp and marijuana at all times, I would have never understood and felt this moment.

Opened My Eyes

Some people that I’ve met at cannabis events give me a side eye when I share my brand name with them. If they’re open to having a discussion about it, I share with them my stance and the reasons as to why. I’ve gotten great feedback after that.

Back in February 2020, before quarantine happened, I was blessed with the grace of one of the most intelligent, wise, spiritual women who is a descendant of Mexican immigrants and lived with them in San Diego.

We were both volunteering at the Emerald Conference when she waved me down to sit outside and share a joint. (THANK HER! There’s no dispensaries in the San Diego city area due to the naval base located there, she saved me.)

As we got deeper in our discussions, she shared her views on using the word marijuana. Her argument was clear she didn’t agree with using the term either. However, when I shed some light on the topic discussing how our history is jumbled up and its actually not the word but the whole movement that was racist, she listened and understood my view and eventually agreed with me.

This is why I believe in and will continue to stand my ground until proven otherwise that it is our best interest and most necessary to continue to use the word marijuana.

War on Drugs is Racist, Not Marijuana

Marijuana Brings Us Together

I will always refer to THC dominant weed as Marijuana.

It’s globally recognized to designate what I am talking about, the stuff that gets us hiiiiiiigh. 

Now, when you go to Mexico and seek out marijuana, or “Molta” which is slang term for marijuana, people know what you are talking about. 

Across the world, depending on how its pronounced in their country, you use the same term spelled with a “j” or an “h”.

Think about it, it brings the world TOGETHER conforming to one universal term. 

Make People Uncomfortable by Using the Term Marijuana

“But you can’t! It’s such a racially profiled word and it has such a terrible history!” 

Depends on how you look at it.

Was this term created to be used to demean a certain culture of people? Not specifically, however some political figures have twisted it to make us believe their beliefs.

First off, there are also other racial derogatory words still commonly used everyday. We hear one specific ‘N’ word commonly used in song lyrics on our playlists. 

Secondly, the War on Drugs targeted black and brown communities and was racially driven to control the masses. Marijuana was unfortunatly used as a tool to target certain disproportionate communities. However, it’s not the only drug that was targeted, all drugs are being targeted. Not all drugs smell like weed does. Thats the problem we have with marijuana. Marijuana has a strong odor and can be more easily targeted (without the use of a drug sniffing dog) than any other drug.

My point stands just like this article states, we need to decolonize drug policies as they were wrong from the very beginning. We should focus on helping heal those that are running to drugs as a way to cope. Most of them/us are dealing with mental issues that are trickling down from the oppressions we feel.

Lastly, we cannot point the finger at marijuana because still to this date we cannot specifically pinpoint the term Marijuana being specifically created and used against black and brown people.

It’s not marijuana’s fault. It’s the governments fault. Thus, the cancel culture around the term marijuana needs to end so that we can focus on ending an asinine War on Drugs movement that taught our kids about drugs and they ended up trying them rather than abstaining from them.

Instead let’s continue to commit to changing the beliefs that people have with marijuana plant rather than focusing on the vocabulary that’s backed by the recently installed beliefs that these older white men created in our society.

War on Drugs is Racist, Not Marijuana

Marijuana Origins Story

The fact is the origins of the term marijuana have been used for over 2,000 years, originatating in ancient Asia. 

China used to refer to this medicinal plant as Ma or Má (which sounds similar to what we call our mother’s, relating that to mother nature’s plants). Then some of the traveller’s from China then brought these seeds of the plant with them to trade in new countries. 

Towards the end of the 19th century, Mexican immigrants carried the term throughout America after hearing Chinese American immigrants calling Marijuana, Má-Ren-Wa, which literally translates in meaning to “hemp-seed-flower”*

Post American Colonization Racists

The “N” word was blatantly been subjected as a form of Manichaeism since the 1800s and more predominantly in the coming of new age America.

Most scholars from around the world SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER before adopting this superiority complex framework. These white bearded men who archived our knowledge-power based of their studies, also formed “the basis for a machine of oppression that was and continues to be one of the widest ranging and most systematic in human history”

It was legal genocide. Just as “legal” as the Holocaust designated Jews lives as unimportant. And even now in the year 2020 our current standing president of the United States (whom I won’t give power to using his name) won’t admit Armenian genoicide is currently happening due to political legalities.

These aren’t the only instances. And, if it doesn’t make you sad and angry, you have no soul.

Even as we are learning from our pasts and moving forward “to a better future”, we still have people that still use the derogatory ‘N’ word or other words to describe other races they don’t agree with.

“The power of the N-word comes not only from it’s historical usage but from Black folk reclaiming the word and trying to divest it of its racialised power and reinvest it with Black vernacular power,” says James Braxton Peterson, the Director of Africana Studies and Associate Professor of English at Lehigh University.

Inhumane Racist Vernacular

Certain words should not even exist. These words were created, not adopted.

The one word that disgusts us now, should have never come to exist. To think that the ego of these white bearded patriarchal men from our past created a label for a culture of people to demean them. Even though it originated in the 18th century, it feels as if it has been an eternity of inferior thoughts trying to demonize a group of people because of the color of their skin.

It’s been centuries of inhumane oppression.

It’s disgusting and my heart hurts for those that are still suffering as a result.

There’s no words or retributions that can ever recover the pain, the loss and the catastrophes that this time period has caused. As it has never just disappeared. It’s truly unfortunate that it still exists in some that feel the need to put others down to “build themselves up”.

Take the Power Back

If black people and the communities they are a part of believe that using the “N’ word empowers them and reminds white people of these atrocities, more power to them. Personally, I don’t agree with those beliefs but it’s not in my place to say what anyone should do in these circumstances. If you wish to discuss this further please do reach out by email high@margojuana.com or share a comment below.

As long as the intent is not harmful, it is what it is. It represents to each individual person a different perspective meaning. 

Most school textbooks still don’t share the truth of all these atrocities.We the people continue to change minds of those people that are unaware every time we stand up in solidarity to educate and organize.

Thus, Marijuana also comes from historical usage and it should also be reclaimed and divested of its racialised power and reinvested as a powerful substance used by ALL RACES. We must stand up and change the minds of the people that believe that this is a substance only used by nonwhites.  

War on Drugs is Racist, Not Marijuana

A Brief Unjust Racial History On Marijuana

We now understand that Marijuana has been corrupted in its recent past.

For decades people have been jailed, even serving life sentences for minor things, like being caught with a joint (a cigarette rolled up with marijuana). 

This hasn’t been just happening in the United States. People all over the world have been getting in serious trouble for this plant. In certain Asian countries people still get stoned (not the good kind of stoned) or possibly killed if they’re caught with cannabis. 

I’m not sure what other countries stances are for criminalizing cannabis, but in the United States racial discrimination was the hidden agenda behind Reefer Madness (1936) the War on Drugs (1971)

Since the publishing of “one of the worst films made” Refer Madness it’s been chaos. Especially after the “War on Drugs” was enacted, more communities of color have experienced unjust discrimination at every level of the justice system. This was most definitely intentional. 

“Higher arrest and incarceration rates for these communities are not reflective of increased prevalence of drug use, but rather of law enforcement’s focus on urban areas, lower income communities and communities of color. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s a low level marijuana possession charge or a low-level nonviolent crime, if you are black you are more likely to be sucked into the system than a white person. 

War on Drugs is Racist, Not Marijuana

Brief Medical Marijuana History

Only recently have the people seen marijuana as a beneficial resource again. 

Since California recognized the medical benefits and legalized it in 1996, states across the nation have spoken up about their desire to medicate with cannabis, both marijuana and hemp. Now 11 states have fully legalized (medically and recreationally) and other states are following suit by decriminalizing and offering medical cannabis because they see the benefits it’s providing to its constituents. 

As you have read above, up until the mid nineteenth century cannabis (both marijuana *THC and hemp *CBD) was a common ingredient in pharmaceutical drugs.

Did you know cannabis was once the 3rd most popular ingredient in common medicines? I didn’t. Not until I started researching cannabis outside of school.

It’s believed that around the turn of the 19th century political interests started to favor the more modern use of common drugs, such as aspirin. 

Those invested in material resources wanted hemp out of production. Those invested in pharmaceuticals wanted marijuana and hemp out. 

The agenda was to push all types of cannabis out of their industries and from pharmacology. This was the dawn of Reefer Madness the War on Drugs propaganda. 

D.a.r.e. to resist drugs and violence. Drug abuse resistance education

Using Marijuana To Oppress

The goal was to eliminate cannabis, both hemp and marijuana.

But how? 

By claiming that marijuana was the reason for wild behavior that makes white woman crazy for black men, makes us talk nonsense and even act out in violent ways.

Welcome the Reefer Madness days, the beginning of oppression. 

This was in the mid 1930s during the American alcohol prohibition when marijuana was not only cheaper but also more accessible than booze.

This comical movie was based on incorrect facts was produced and funded by a church to warn parents about their beliefs that marijuana was harmful.

Then, in the 70s after WWII, along comes Nixon and his wife pushing his racist buddy Anslinger’s agenda. The “War on Drugs” was created to put an end to drug abuse by classifying schedules of certain drugs and those in possession of the drugs were to be charged.

The War on Drugs ideology was that illegal drugs were being smuggled into the United States being distributed by mostly lower income populations where the majority of those people living there were people of color (POC). 

This was said to be causing havoc and violence amongst the American population and we needed a stop to this. 

The Most Disgusting Human from FBN

Guess who was put as head of this newly established Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN)? Harry Anslinger. (hope he is rotting in his grave)

Harry Anslinger is the one that lead the American people to believe the lies about Marijuana behind his desire to racially profile and control the population he disliked. 

This disgusting man served as the commissioner for the FBN for 32 years throughout Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy presidencies. He then held office as the US Representative to the United Nations Narcotics Commission. He was indeed one of the most powerful racists in our government. 

This inhumane person was able to convince the masses that we should incarcerate people of color that were being targeted with nonviolent crimes dealing with the possession or sale of Marijuana. I wish I could think of a word to describe the atrocies outcomes this has created. These families were torn apart, enslaved by the judicial system, and purposely subjected to bite the dust of the “American Dream”.

War on Drugs is Racist, Not Marijuana

Why is Marijuana Still Illegal?

We’re all pretty much aware of Marijuana being illegal because it still is not legal everywhere. 

Still to this day many (white) people are hiding their use of any type of cannabis product. 

It’s incredible that 67% of the current United States population believes that cannabis products should be available to the public, yet there is still a stigma against it in some parts of the country. 

Even in legal states cannabis use is still hidden by closed doors. 

No matter our race or our incomes, as we age our bodies tend to get aches and pains. 

We suffer from anxieties, depression and trouble focusing. 

Some more serious conditions and diseases are becoming more common. Do I dare say that if you have one serious condition you are bound to get more? That’s the pharmaceutical industry way!

During the turn of the 20th century, we saw Big Pharma set the stage for our current dilemmas. 

They sold us on the “solution to our problems”. 

Take this lab made drug to treat your current symptoms with the likely possibility of the onslaught of other severe side effects, possibly even developing another serious condition.

Don’t worry about those side effects for now, because we’ll have something else to offer you to treat those issues, not if but when they come up. 

This cycle continues to line the pockets of pharmaceutical company interests with our hard earned money.  Guess who has the most interest in that industry? No surprise there, its our politician legislatures.

Even though Reefer Madness days are now long behind us and we now have medical proof that cannabis is a safe option with no threat of death, we are still debating if we should even allow it, reschedule or decriminalize, etc. 

War on Drugs is Racist, Not Marijuana

Why Does it Feel Wrong to Say Marijuana

It’s been pretty taboo to say the word marijuana. It’s been illegal in the states for close to 80 years and alongside it’s illegality it also carried unjust racial history. 

Many are trying to fight the predecessor who made the word marijuana racial profiling by completely eliminating the use of the word and replacing it with the term cannabis.

Now, it took me a while to decide on how I want to communicate my message to differentiate between hemp and marijuana. I tried using the word cannabis to replace the word marijuana and I got many confusing looks and questions as to what I was talking about. And to be honest my heart and soul tell me I need to stand up for Mary J (marijuana) and not eliminate saying her name.

I’m beyond pissed off that this War on Drugs was twisted against us. And marijuana was used as a channel to fulfill racist desires.

We were led to believe in a fake government tactic.

Now imagine trying to explain this your grandma who is looking for pain relief. Trying to explain to someone who doesn’t understand cannabis like you and I do, she is going to get so confused!

Cannabis is the parent to the kids hemp and marijuana. It is still classified as Cannabis Sativa L. being designated as a hemp plant. Yet, we have marijuana “strains” (cultivars) who are designated as indica and sativas, dependant on what type of effects you would like.

Do you see how this can get a bit confusing to a newcomer? (canna curious)

Yes we need to educate the masses on all the many cannabinoids and terpenes found in the plant, however not everyone will care or be interested in figuring these technical terms out. 

Making it simple as designating the names as marijuana and hemp will help. (I tried using the acronyms THC dominant and CBD dominant and that was just as confusing)

Let’s make it easier for ourselves and for the canna curious. 

Canna Curious Education

Even then, we have a whole onslaught of spectrums for either marijuana or hemp. You can have CBD dominant marijuana and hemp CBD, both quality uses. However, hemp fiber can also be used for textiles and materials commonly used.

In conclusion, I believe we should continue to use the word of marijuana and empower her by educating and opening the minds of the disbelievers and the naysayers. Marijuana deserves to have her name said not only to allow us to clearly understand the difference but also because it does so much good for the world and us. 

We’re struggling as an industry to create just systems, as we see in each states social equity rollouts, like Illinois’. 

Kamala Harris sharing that her initiative as our VP is to decriminalize marijuana across the United States would be a good step forward. 

We have a lot of karma (not the good kind) to reap after marijuana’s illegality. From reversing its racial injustices, figuring out where to place it within our society standards (consuming and driving), to trying to accurately dose individuals (each individuals ECS is unique) knowing which compounds of the plant work in our favor. 

Good luck in all of your cannabis journeys. Please do share any interesting stories you may have with the plant. #stonerstories

And please, do share your opinions on why you think this is correct or if you oppose my thoughts. I welcome all opinions here. 

my ptsd journey, margojuana
Margo Vesely is the Founder and CEO of Margojuana, where she's dedicated her career to inspiring humanity to understand the blessings in cannabis. Margo is a passionate cannabis advocate, researcher, explorer, and entrepreneur with almost two decades of cannabis and legal experience, both in the public and private sectors. She also volunteers as the executive director of the nonprofit IL NORML (National Organization of Reform Marijuana Laws). Margo strives to use her platforms to share her vision of the future of cannabis, by encouraging continued research for data-driven science, biology, and advocates for laws concerning cannabis. She is passionate about helping the community grow and succeed in this new industry, as well as promoting opportunities within it. Cannabis research fascinates and thus prompted her to develop the new podcast called the PhytoEndo Connection; an educational cannabis platform showcasing the whole plant’s potential benefits in conjunction with our individually unique endocannabinoid systems. Margo encourages continued research for data-driven science, biology, and advocates for laws concerning cannabis. She is passionate about helping the community grow and succeed in this new industry, as well as promoting opportunities in it.