Why We Use the Term Cannabis


There are many terms in use for the plants in the cannabis genus. Marijuana, ganja, weed, and hemp are some of the more familiar synonyms. Some of the nomenclature reflects a quality about the cannabis. For instance hemp is often used to signify cannabis of an industrial variety, while sensimilla describes female cannabis plants that have been prevented from breeding. Otherwise it’s mostly local slang. In common usage, whichever terminology suits the speaker’s purpose is totally acceptable. However, doctors, scientists, government officials should be precise and proper. Making conscious decisions about the language we use is more than just an exercise in pretension, it has important implications for history, the present, and the future of cannabis medicine.





First and foremost, the reason we use the term cannabis is because that is, and has been, the accepted scientific name of the plant since the classical Greeks were introduced to the plant by the ancient Scythians. Since our mission at CITIVA is to provide the public with safe, effective, and dependable medicines we want our language to reflect the seriousness of our commitment to our customers. Most patients and doctors would probably prefer if the healthcare industry avoids the use of slang


The use of slang has also been used to marginalize and demonize cannabis, often with racist undertones. Cannabis was a widely used plant, for both industrial and medicinal purposes, in the United States from the colonial era to the 1930’s. In fact, cannabis was the active ingredient in a variety of patent medicines available in pharmacies across the country. Doctors and patients would have probably recognized the substance as cannabis or “indian hemp”.


Despite the fact that the plant already had a familiar scientific name that was internationally recognized, in the 1930’s the US government began referring to cannabis in official reports using an obscure northern Mexican slang term favored by migrant workers “marijuana”. In propaganda, cannabis was “reefer” a term tied to African American jazz musicians. This change in nomenclature coincided with a concerted effort by federal law enforcement agencies and private interests to ban the plant.


By exploiting racial animus, prohibitionists tied cannabis to ethnic minorities and sensational crimes in order to turn popular opinion against a plant that many were using for medical benefit. They went so far as to rename a familiar plant with obscure slang. It may seem absurd but the tactic was wildly successful and we continue to fight federal prohibition to this day.


Words have meaning besides simple identification. They evoke images and inspire emotion. In medicine we must not only be specific, though specificity is crucial, we must be comforting and inclusive. Always seeking to elevate our field.


Treat Cannabis Like Other Medicines To Reduce Burden on Patients

Millions of Americans currently rely on cannabis, in some form or another, for symptom relief. If current trends hold, millions more will join their ranks in the coming years. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has published a comprehensive review of medical cannabis research and found that cannabis is safe and has extensive therapeutic value. Recent research even suggests that in some circumstances cannabis may be the most effective treatment for certain conditions that are particularly treatment resistant such as neuropathy, epilepsy, and IBS. Further, in the midst of a nationwide opioid addiction epidemic that continues to spiral out of control, one public policy that appears to ease some of the associated problems is legalized medical cannabis.



Because of the federal government’s classification of cannabis as a drug of abuse with no accepted medical applications, patients and providers face important hurdles.  From banking to insurance subsidies, federal interference means that medical cannabis is more expensive and inaccessible than other medicines.


Many of those currently enjoying the benefits of medical cannabis do so even though prescribed or over-the-counter medication for their conditions are often cheaper and easier to obtain. Getting medical cannabis entails a visit to a doctor that is often not the patient’s primary care provider and and often the visit requires a large out of pocket payment. Once approved, the patient must then go to a dispensary which may or may not be near their home, choose from a variety of strains and products advised by someone without medical training, and pay completely out of pocket for their medicine. Prescription medication, on the other hand, only requires a visit to one’s primary care provider and a trip to the local pharmacy, both of which are generally covered by one’s health insurance.


The current system makes cannabis less available to the people who could benefit the most. Seniors on a fixed income and a myriad of health problems often cannot afford the extra inconvenience and out of pocket expenses. The same goes for the disabled and children on medicaid. Medical understanding and public opinion have long moved away from the federal government’s classification of cannabis. The debate on whether cannabis should be legalized is nearly settled. The next important conversation is how we integrate cannabis into the established medical system and make it accessible and affordable for all.


Restrictions on Cannabis Medicine Burden Disabled People


The rights of the disabled require constant vigilance. The advancements of the disability rights movement such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, Medicaid, and social inclusion were hard won and enforcement of these gains remains a struggle. Beside implicit biases against their abilities, the disabled must also confront the fact that the people they engage with are often ignorant of the challenges they face, and what is necessary to address them. This makes it difficult to relay the urgency of the policy objectives promoted by disability rights activists. One of the many areas where disability activists have difficulty expressing the seriousness and urgency of their proposals is cannabis medicine.




The United States provides legal and social protections for the disabled and subsidizes ways to enable disabled people to have broader and deeper engagement with their community. These laws and norms are a recognition of two facts about the nature of the relationship between the disabled and wider community. The first is that people with disabilities deserve compassion and that any reasonable accommodation that reduces the burden of disability is widely accepted as a moral effort. The second recognition is that, if offered reasonable accommodation, many people with disabilities can contribute and compete effectively in their communities and industries. Therefore support for the disabled is also a sound investment.  Cannabis medicine implicates both of these truths even as policy makers fail to recognize.


Cannabis is a remarkable palliative drug. It reduces pain, spasm, nausea, and anxiety while promoting restful sleep. All of these are symptoms of of different disabilities. They may seem banal but they can be be debilitating. While other drugs exist to treat each of these symptoms they have crucial limitations. Certain combinations of these drugs can be fatal (a common example being pain and anxiety medications).  Many create physical dependencies and all carry a risk of fatal overdose. Cannabis on the other hand is incredibly safe with zero recorded overdoses. It also has the benefit of being far less intoxicating than many pain, spasm and anxiety medications allowing for a better quality of life while medicated.


Many people struggling with disability also could not be productive without cannabis medicines. For certain forms of epilepsy, neuropathy, depression, inflammatory conditions, and anxiety there simply are not effective alternatives. By restricting access to cannabis we are restricting the ability of millions to work.


States continuing to ban cannabis medicines are causing needless hardship to the disabled community. Cannabis medicines can ease some of the painful symptoms of certain disabilities while allowing the person to remain active and engaged. Even as states open and expand their medical cannabis programs, they must keep in mind the people who need them the most. Efforts must be made to keep cannabis medicine affordable, available, and accessible.


In the


View Our


Meet the