Marijuana, what does the word mean to you?

Marijuana, what does the word mean to you?

Some Love it, Some hate it.

The Mexican slang for the cannabis plant means different things to different people. Pot activists hate the word because it was imported to America as a tool for propaganda. The scientific term for marijuana is cannabis.

To some Americans, the word marijuana conjures up images of blank-stare slackers anchored to a couch, staring blithely at the television, bag of Cheetos in hand.

Other folks may think of marijuana and associate it with their college years, which may or may not have a direct similarity to the above slacker association.

Some people associate marijuana with introspection, creativity, depth of perception, relaxation, or consciousness expansion. Some associate pot with better sex.

The word marijuana relates to a religious sacrament for Rastafarians, and some others. It is claimed to be an ancient “upaya”,  or  instrument that can help you get just a little bit (or even much) closer to the divine.

There are people who think of marijuana and they immediately associate it with hippies, the ’60’s counter-culture, and the Woodstock generation, although that was in a different century, and half a century ago.


Marijuana makes treatment specialists think of addiction, abuse, esteem problems, motivational issues, psychosis, and schizophrenia. – Vivian McPeak


An increasing number of Americans associate marijuana with the temporary or long-term relief from symptoms of a disease they may be suffering from. Patients with AIDS, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, chronic pain, insomnia, and several other conditions adamantly claim that their use of marijuana greatly relieves their suffering. But hey, what do they know? After all, they are all hopped up on pot. They probably have esteem issues, right?

To the United States government, marijuana is a dangerous, addictive-narcotic. Marijuana is one of the number one threats to this country, at least according to the priority financial institutions and law enforcement assign to the herb. More Americans are arrested for marijuana each year than for rape, murder, robbery, and aggravated assault combined. In fact, one in eight prisoners in America is locked up on a marijuana offense.

The word marijuana makes me think of all these things, but in particular it brings to my mind one of the  longest-running shameful government policies that my country has ever engaged in. It reminds me of the thousands upon thousands of individual families, of singular human beings, who have had their lives shattered needlessly.


Marijuana makes me hear the sounds, smell the smells, and feel the fear that has been in the hearts of so many of my decent, gentle, otherwise law-abiding fellow cannabis enthusiasts who have been victimized by their government in the name of justice. I think of children who will never know their parents because they’ll be raised by foster parents while their real parents are in jail. I reflect on the people who have lost their lives in the course of the enforcement of these laws. – Vivian McPeak


Are some pot smokers criminals? Hell yes. Criminals like pot too. Some criminals jay-walk too; should we make that a felony? Should we have a war against jay-walking? Actually, I’d probably somewhat support that, that kind of makes sense. But the war on marijuana users is senseless.

To me, marijuana means a power structure in America that has a secret. That secret is that they are not really afraid of the effects of marijuana itself. They don’t really believe that cannabis is that threatening.  It is the marijuana culture that they fear, rather than the plant.  And you know what?

You can’t stop a good thing. The cannabis culture is growing steadily. It is time to give prohibition a permanent vacation, it is of retirement age.  Prohibition has been failing for almost a century. Let’s do an experiment and let the people smoke pot. Then Americans will be shocked to discover that Chicken Little was wrong all along; as the sky will remain perfectly intact. The sun will come up each morning, and life will go on just the same as it does today.

I say that because I know that the people are already smoking it everywhere. The prohibition of cannabis is an abysmal failure, a tragic waste of tax payer dollars and law enforcement resources. Washingtonians who are registered to vote can make it all go away by signing the Sensible Washington initiative I-1149.

To cherish freedom is the American way. Throughout history, Americans who have fought for and won essential freedoms have been branded as criminals in their own time, but then later have been regarded as patriots. Why should cannabis be different?

By: Vivian McPeak
Vivian McPeak is a Pacific Northwest based musician and social justice activist. As the executive director of the world’s largest cannabis policy reform rally, the Seattle Hempfest, McPeak has helped influenced regional cannabis policies
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