The state of Washington has changed the laws in its state to replace the words “marijuana” with “cannabis” in its legal code, according to a report by The Washington Times.
The publication reported that the state legislature has cited “racist origins” in the word derived from the Spanish language and moved to purge it from the state’s official documents.
House Bill 1210 was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee on March 11 and will goes into effect in June of this year says that “the use of the term ‘marijuana’ in the United States has discriminatory origins and should be replaced with the more scientifically accurate term ‘cannabis.’”
The law will change the Revised Code of Washington, and according to state Rep. Melanie Morgan, a Democrat who co-sponsored the bill, help with negative associations for the language.
Morgan said during her testimony to the legislature that the word “was negatively associated with Mexican immigrants” who allegedly used recreational marijuana, and the term became popular in the mid-20th century: “It was used as a racist terminology to lock up Black and Brown people,” Morgan said.
The lawmaker quoted the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger, who was involved in passing the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which made it illegal to sell and process the drug:
“Marijuana is the most violent causing drug in the history of mankind,” Anslinger said, according to her quotation. “And most marijuana users are Negroes, Hispanic, Caribbean, and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz, and swing result from marijuana usage.”
Social media users seemed to think this was an unreasonable move on the part of the state legislature with one user commenting on the story, “More dead trees as new law books would have to be printed with the changes. Marijuana seems to be a made-up Spanish word.
“In English it just means Mary Jane. The name marijuana is not racist, it was how it was used by racists. Are all marijuana growers and sellers going to become cannabis growers and sellers?”
Another took exception to the description of the drug’s effects, saying “Wait that lady done said marijuana is the most violent drug .. only thing you become violent to when you partake of the devil’s lettuce is food.”
Still another called the move “Another, ‘Hold my beer’ moment brought to you by liberal state of Washington,” and a weighed in saying, “These people really think progress means banning innocuous words like marijuana.”