Is Weed and Marijuana the Same?

Is Weed the Same as Marijuanas?

Weed and Marijuana both refer to Cannabis. Cannabis is a plant that is popularly being used to produce a psychoactive drug intended for medicinal and recreational use. The word “marijuana” was used earlier as compared to the slang term “weed.” 

The discussions we have below will give a deeper understanding of the subtle differences between “weed” and “marijuana.” 

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana only became part of the American culture in 1910. Before that, there was no knowledge of Marijuana amongst the American people. Marijuana is a Mexican Spanish term that was originally spelled as “marijuana” or “marihuana.” Smoking cannabis only became popular in the US in 1910 when they had several immigrants. 

So in effect, Marihuana or Marijuana is Spanish sounding name that has been given to the cannabis plant, which associates it with the Mexicans or Mexican Cartels in the US. 

The word Marijuana became popular following the various timelines;


Over 890,000 Mexicans sought refuge in the US between 1910 to 1920 due to the ongoing civil war at that time. This influx of immigrants tended to increase this herb-smoking culture. 


Twenty-nine states banned Marijuana, and it was particularly associated with the minorities at the time (Mexicans and Blacks). It is believed that the first director of the Federal Burea of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger was an influential figure in associating Marijuana with foreigners and violent behavior. So during the stress, many people saw Marijuana as one of the leading causes of mental corruption. 


The “Marihuana Tax Act of 1937” was passed at the highest point of Anslinger’s career, and since then, Marijuana has been widely associated as a violent and illegal psychoactive drug. 

What is Weed?

“Weed” is often used as a term for a plant that grows where you don’t want it to. Weed typically grows in your yard without planting them, and it is often stressful removing them. People tend to call the cannabis plant “weed” to signify the ease with which it is cultivated and at the same time giving it a negative connotation. 

According to TV shows such as National Geographic’s “Weed County,” Discovery Channel’s “Weed County,” and Viceland’s “Weediquette,” popular culture tend to prefer “weed.” It tends to be the most famous slang for Cannabis. 

So now let’s take a look at what differentiates weed from Marijuana;

–         Generic Term

Since most non-users use the term marijuana, it is more of a generic term, whereas the term weed is mostly associated with cannabis users.  

–         Legal Terms

Several legislation proceedings such as “federal marijuana law” and “marijuana legalization” make use of Marijuana. An example can be seen in section 19 of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), which states that “Marijuana means any part of the plant genus Cannabis whether growing or not.” On the other hand, “weed” is not used in formal situations because it is a slang word. 

–         Prejudice

In the year 2017, a counselor of the Municipality of Halifax by the name Shawn Cleary made headlines when he stated in one of his interviews that the term “marijuana” was racist. He was referring to Anslinger’s campaign in the 1930s, which we earlier mentioned saying it marginalized Mexican-American culture. “Weed,” on the other hand, has never been associated with any particular group of people. 

–         Organizations

Lots of groups in different countries such as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (USA), Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (Canada), and the Help End Marijuana Prohibition Party (Australia) bear the term “marijuana.” With regards to “weed,” there no national organizations which make use of the term. 

–         Ambiguity

“Marijuana” is associated with the psychoactive hemp plant or drug, whereas “weed” is sometimes understood as an unnecessary or unwanted plant. 

–         Medical Terms

Marijuana tends to be associated with medical terms such as “marijuana card” or “medical marijuana,” but this is not the case for “weed.”

–         Google’s Ngram Viewer

In the year 2013, “smoke weed” was used 149 times as reported by Google books. This rate was way higher than the results gotten from “smoke marijuana,” which was only about 69 times. Weed results also had a more consistent graph, but this was not the case for Marijuana. 

–         Production

Breeders generally use the flowers or buds of the female plant when it is mature to produce medical or recreational Cannabis. Cannabis also has two sexes like humans, and when producing drugs, you have to separate the males from the females. 

The buds of these plants are generally what people refer to as Marijuana or weed. The leaves were often smoked up until the 1980s in Europe and the US, although they contained less psychoactive substances. 

To conclude, weed and Marijuana can be seen as the same thing. The only difference is how they are called amongst different groups. Some people always tend to get confused when these two are mentioned, but the only difference is that weed is slang for Marijuana. 

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