The Words You Should Use When You Talk About Weed

On second thought, stoner, use any word you like.

It’s been a historical fact since cash was invented that money talks. Today, as the commoditization of marijuana normalization moves into a rich, green future, money is not only talking; money is trying to dictate what the rest of us should say as well.

This past Sunday, Privateer Holdings CEO Brandon Kennedy told the media world to use the word cannabis instead of saying marijuana. Privateer Holdings is an equity firm focused entirely on weed-related companies. Kennedy, interviewed by CBS News for its “Big Pot: The Commercial Takeover” report, revealed: “We at Privateer decided that we were going to use the C word six years ago. And we’ve stuck to it.”

By C word, Kennedy is not referring to the anatomical expletive that will earn the immediate and lasting animosity of every woman within earshot. By C word, Kennedy means cannabis.

Privateer’s push to use the term cannabis over 'marijuana,' 'weed,' or 'pot' is a cosmetic preference imposed by a profiteer upon the community it intends to enrich itself off of.

Crack a dictionary, and you will find that the primary definition of cannabis is “hemp.” The stuff they make hippie ponchos and boring old rope out of. Kennedy’s Privateer Holdings recently closed a $40 million funding round and has invested in Canadian weed producers Tilray, Seattle pot website Leafly, and the Marley Naturals marijuana brand. Judging by Privateer's sphere of influence, the firm’s CEO is clearly referring to the secondary definition of cannabis: “Any of the preparations or chemicals that are derived from the hemp and are psychoactive.”

More precisely known as weed or pot or marijuana.

“For us, [word policing] was about mainstreaming the industry,” explains Kennedy. He complains that the media “don’t use slang words when they talk about alcohol,” and yet when crafting herb-news stories, “They’ll use the M word, the P word. Lots of other words.”

The Privateer CEO’s admonition to shun the so-called M word falls in step with a long line of language policing by pot entrepreneurs that stretches back to at least the beginning of the recent election cycle.

For instance, a Reddit-archived article originally posted in 2015 on the Harborside Health Center website, titled “We Should Use the Term ‘Cannabis’ not ‘Marijuana,’ ” argued:

The word "marijuana" or “marihuana” is an emotional, pejorative term that has played a key role in creating the negative stigma that still tragically clings to this holistic, herbal medicine. Most cannabis users recognize the "M word" as offensive, once they learn its history.

The essay goes on to contend that marijuana, a word used by native and immigrant Mexicans in the U.S. southwest, was turned into a racist pejorative by yellow journalism publisher William Randolph Hearst and should be shunned due to its painful reverberations and its—presumed—connotation that cannabis is a “dangerous and addictive intoxicant.”

Well-meaning guardians of triggering terms have company in wanting to slap forbidden phrasing out of the mouths of the great unwashed marijuana masses. For instance, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission this September issued a “temporary rule” banning 14 strain names from commercial consideration. The prohibited appellations include Girl Scout Cookies, Grape Ape (a children’s cartoon character from the 1970s), Candyland (kids’ board game from Hasbro), Charlotte’s Web (children’s book by E. B. White), Cinderella, Dr. Who (fictional show marketed to children), Bubblelicious (kids love bubblegum), Smurf (duh, child-related), Bruce Banner (for his connection to cartoon character the Hulk), Death Star, Skywalker, and Jedi Kush (Star Wars is for children).

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s word policing seems to be all about eliminating messaging that might fire the curiosity of children. The Oregon authorities are not claiming the offending terms are imprecise or defy correct definition. That dictionary-incorrect quibble goes to Leafly, a marijuana message board owned by corporate word police Privateer Holdings.

“Stop Calling Cannabis Suppositories ‘Weed Tampons’ ” demanded the headline to a recent Leafly post pointing out that Merriam-Webster defines tampon as a plug of cotton wadding vaginally inserted to absorb menstrual blood. Writer Ashley Manta insists, correctly, that the Foria Relief menstruation-amelioration product under discussion does not fulfill the function of a textbook tampon. Or, in Manta’s words, IT’S NOT A FUCKING TAMPON. (All caps all her own.)

An argument can be made for editing out the word marijuana on grounds that it is a cultural appropriation and triggers pained memories of race-based persecution. There is a rationale behind avoiding drug branding that borrows from pre-adolescent vocabularies, and to withhold the tampon tag from a product that lacks absorbent qualities makes perfect literal sense. But these arguments, viewed from more than one side, all have plenty of room for reasoned opposition.

The future is female, and it is online looking for a 'weed tampon;' get out of the way, and let the future find the relief it needs.

For instance, although it is archived on Reddit, the Harborside Health Center article advocating erasing the word marijuana from the stoner vocabulary seems to have been scrubbed from the Harborside website. In fact, the word marijuana is currently sprinkled liberally across Harborside’s homepage. The site appears to have come to terms with carrying the word’s baggage forward.

As for naming weed strains after childish things, this is America, land of free trade and caveat emptor and arrested adolescence. It’s somewhere in the Declaration of Independence that we are allowed to name our weed in ways that hearken back to the formative years of innocent wonder and awe.

And, manifestly, absorbency is not a function of Foria’s weed-infused pain-relieving vaginal inserts. But the vast majority of in-pain women searching for the Foria product are not typing “weed-infused pain-relieving vaginal inserts” into Google. The future is female, and it is online looking for a “weed tampon;” get out of the way, and let the future find the relief it needs.

But Privateer’s push to use the term cannabis over marijuana, weed, or pot is without just cause. It is a cosmetic preference imposed by a profiteer upon the community it intends to enrich itself off of. Saying cannabis for weed is like saying coitus or intercourse for fuck. When you reach that point of sensual embarkation with some special someone, which husky whisper would you rather feel hotly wafted to you ear:

1) Let’s coitus

2) Shall we intercourse?

3) Fuck me now, you fool!

The answer, and it’s ramifications, are obvious.

So, Mr. Kennedy, congratulations on raising 40 million more dollars to go toward your widely reported positioning of Privateer as a dominating force in that emerging monetized space separating og kush cultivators and a corporate future for the devil’s lettuce. Privateer Holdings could conceivably become the brightest light in marijuana commercialization, until normalization goes national, and Big Pharma steps in and undercuts, absorbs, or grinds Privateer under its heel.

Until that inevitable day, in answer to your suggestion what the media stick to the C word? Go coitus yourself.