In 1924, the people of Baltimore awoke to a startling illustration in their leading newspaper. It depicted a devil emerging amid the fumes of cannabis being cooked in a pot over coals. The smoke drove those with the habit of secluding themselves into a frenzy.
The headline of that August edition of the Baltimore Sun read, “The Mystery of the Peculiar Mexican Herb,” as several news outlets at the time used similar imagery and language. The article continued, attributing all kinds of negative tendencies to indulgence in the dreaded “marihuana weed” from Mexico. This sentiment was part of a wider anti-Mexican wave that often masked itself as a call for banning a dangerous substance.
Mexican newspapers had used the term “marihuana” as early as the 19th century when indigenous Mexicans embraced the medicinal and recreational use of the plant after its introduction by Spanish colonizers.
As Maryland recently joined other states in legalizing recreational cannabis use for adults, the debate over what to call the drug also arose. In the past, “marijuana” and “cannabis” have been used interchangeably. However, some scholars pointed out that the term “marijuana” had stigmatized the plant, particularly within Mexican and broader Latino communities, leading some to consider it racist.
In Maryland, lawmakers chose to use “cannabis” in the statute ending the criminalization of the drug, with the primary focus being reducing the incarceration rates of Latinos and Blacks for drug possession. The state is also committed to educating Latinos through workshops about legalization and cannabis business opportunities to counter misinformation and reduce stigma.
The negative connotations of the word “marijuana” resonate with Antonio Valdez, director of the National Hispanic Cannabis Council (NHCC), reminding him of his mother’s disapproval, a cultural aspect that brought shame within Latino households. A study by the NHCC showed that parents often cause feelings of shame over cannabis among Hispanic individuals, though many of them use the substance recreationally or medicinally. Interestingly, the study revealed that 41% of respondents were comfortable with the term “marijuana” compared to “cannabis,” while another 41% had no strong preference.
Santiago Guerra, a Colorado College professor of Southwest studies, emphasized the importance of using culturally significant terms for cannabis to foster inclusivity within the industry. Referring to the plant as “marijuana” recognizes the historical connection between indigenous Mexican populations and the plant, he said. Guerra emphasized that branding “marijuana” as racist overlooks the true reason behind the U.S. criminalization of the plant, which was fueled by anti-Mexican sentiments following the Mexican-American War.
As more states legalize the drug, Guerra believes it is essential to recognize Mexico’s historical role in its relationship with cannabis. By silencing this history, the true understanding of the term “marijuana” is lost, he added.
While legalization is intended to put an end to some of the social ills resulting from prohibition, it will also open up business opportunities for several cannabis-touching and ancillary actors such as Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX).
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/ACTX
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