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Why it can be okay to call it ‘marijuana’ instead of ‘cannabis’

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As marijuana goes mainstream, people are rethinking the term, claiming we should ditch “marijuana” because it’s racist, and instead, say “cannabis.” Individuals should say what they like, but this rule is too simplistic for such a complex drug. We should develop more, not fewer, words for what we need to say.

It makes sense that some want to avoid the “m-word.” Marijuana has always had a unique place in American history and politics, according to scholar Emily Dufton, author of Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana Activism in America. No other drug has inspired this kind of debate and been tied to issues from war to racism to criminal justice. (Dufton herself is an “equal-opportunity user” of words, who says part of the…

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