Washington State Bans Use of Word ‘Marijuana’ Over Racist Connotations

Washington State Bans Use of Word 'Marijuana' Over Racist Connotations Washington State on cannabis background. Drug policy. Legalization of marijuana on USA flag (Dreamstime)

By Theodore Bunker | Tuesday, 26 April 2022 01:07 PM

The state of Washington will ban the word "marijuana" from being used in state laws as it "was used as a racist terminology," according to Democrat legislators.

"The term 'marijuana' itself is pejorative and racist," said Washington state Rep. Melanie Morgan, a Democrat, in a statement upon the bill's introduction last year, according to CBS affiliate KIRO-7.

"As recreational marijuana use became more popular, it was negatively associated with Mexican immigrants," she noted, adding it "was used as a racist terminology to lock up Black and brown people."

The legislation, House Bill 1210, would replace the word "marijuana" with the alternative term "cannabis," in the state's legal code. Washington Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill last month and it is set to take effect this June.

"Even though it seems simple because it's just one word, the reality is we're healing the wrongs that were committed against Black and brown people around cannabis," Morgan added.

She also quoted Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who helped pass the 1937 act that banned the possession or sale of cannabis, as saying, "'Marijuana is the most violent causing drug in the history of mankind. And most marijuana users are Negroes, Hispanic, Caribbean, and entertainers. Their satanic music, jazz and swing results from marijuana usage.'"

Washington, which was one of the first states to legalize recreational cannabis use, now has the fourth-highest number of licenses for cannabis cultivation in the country.

"It had been talked about for a long time in our community about how that word ['marijuana'] demonizes the cannabis plant," Joy Hollingsworth, whose family owns the Hollingsworth Cannabis Company, told KIRO-7.