Most cannabis advocates think that to gain public acceptance; the drug needs to be referred to as “cannabis’ and not “marijuana.” They believe that the word marijuana has a black history behind it as it was used by anti-drug officials in the 20th century. They want the drug to be called by its scientific name, which sounds more morally acceptable. Cannabis legalization proponents believe that by using the scientific name instead of marijuana, it would boost legalization support.
Study Reveals the Terms “Marijuana” For “Cannabis” Will Not Boost Legalization Support
However, according to recent research, changing the name of the drug from marijuana to cannabis does not, in any way, change the opinion of the average person. The study found out that the public does not draw a distinction between the terms “cannabis” and “marijuana.”
Researchers at the Vanderbilt University, in partnership with YouGov, surveyed 1,600 adults in the United States with the aim of assessing the public attitude towards cannabis vs. marijuana. The team also included the terms “medical cannabis” and “medical marijuana.” The study focused on the public opinion on moral acceptability, legalization, stereotypes of users, perception of harm, and tolerance of drug activities.
50.3% and 50.1% of the interviewees supported cannabis and marijuana legalization, respectively. 34.3% strongly supported cannabis legalization compared to 26% that strongly endorsed marijuana legalization. The study also observed that the support for legalization of the drug increased when the term “medical” was introduced. 44.3% opined that the term cannabis was morally acceptable compared to a close figure of 43.8% that found marijuana being morally acceptable.
The findings of the study show that there is no difference between the two words among the general public. Public opinion on the potential harm of “cannabis” vs. “marijuana” was similar.
“The name used on the drug might not have any influence on the public opinion, but medical cannabis and marijuana use receives more favor and support compared to unspecified uses,” the study report states.
The public is of the opinion of medical legalization of medical use of the drug and less bothered by the naming of the drug.