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Recreational or Adult Use, Marijuana or Cannabis: Which Term to Use?

If you’ve ever been to a dispensary, you might have noticed some slightly different language to refer to the products and services inside than you have heard colloquially or in the popular media. In this post, we give a brief breakdown of why we use the language that we do.

Recreational vs. Adult Use

With legalization in Colorado and Washington, and now in Oregon as well, you’ve probably heard the term “recreational marijuana” to refer to cannabis use outside of medical marijuana programs. Here at Substance, we refer to cannabis usage for adults over the age of 21 who do not hold Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) cards as “adult use”.

We use this term because we believe that responsible adults can and should be able to determine what cannabis usage means to them. The medical vs. recreational binary creates a false choice for cannabis users, reinforcing the idea that non-medical users of cannabis are making inherently risky or reckless decisions. Sensible, adult cannabis users who do not have qualifying conditions for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program should face no more stigma than adult users of alcohol. Adult beer drinkers, by comparison, do not have to go to the ‘recreational beer store’.

Cannabis vs. Marijuana

Cannabis and marijuana essentially refer to the same thing. Technically, cannabis refers to the parent plant, which can be broken up into Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Sativas and indicas are what we seek on the medical and adult use markets – ruderalis lacks the cannabinoids that provide those sought-after therapeutic benefits. Hemp is used to refer to a low-THC variety of Cannabis sativa that is often harvested for industrial use.

Marijuana is generally used to refer to higher THC (or CBD) varieties of Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. However, the term has not always been so commonplace. Widespread usage of the word ‘marijuana’ began following the Mexican Revolution of 1910, when the United States saw a large influx of Mexican migrants. Many of these migrants used cannabis as a medicine and a relaxant, and as anti-Mexican sentiment went on the rise, racist propaganda spread fear of the Mexican “Marijuana Menace”.

Because of the history of racism associated with the term ‘marijuana’ in the United States, and the general applicability of the term ‘cannabis’, we use the latter. Considering this history, and the stigmas still surrounding cannabis use today, we feel that using the term ‘adult cannabis use’ over ‘recreational marijuana’ helps combat the negative associations that we as a society have with the cannabis plant.

We hope this post has been informative. Thanks for reading, and we look forward to seeing even more of you join our community of adult cannabis users come October 1st!

More Reading:

Cannabis Cultivation Grow Styles: Indoor, Outdoor or Greenhouse?

Cannabis Genetics: Exploring the Past and Shaping the Future

Make Your Own Cannabis Edibles: Cooking Tips and Recipe Ideas

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