“Cannabis” vs “marijuana” – and why the differences between these terms matter

Updated: Mar 10

If you have been browsing our website here at Hempire in Gibraltar with a view to seeking out our consulting services for your own cannabis business, or even if you are merely interested in the subject on a more casual basis, you may be intrigued by our use of such terms as “cannabis”, “CBD” and “hemp”, and our disclination to using the term “marijuana”.


After all, are the terms “marijuana” and “cannabis” not used interchangeably in many contexts, alongside such other terms as “weed”, “dope” and “grass”? Indeed, this is the case on the website of the National Health Service in the UK, a country where cannabis remains an illegal drug.


The reality is, however, that although many people do treat “cannabis” and “marijuana” as synonyms, they are not the same thing. And even if that were the case, it does not touch on the other issues around how these terms have been used, in both contemporary and historical contexts.


What is problematic about the term “marijuana”?

There are many reasons why our team at Hempire, Gibraltar does not use the term “marijuana” in reference to the industries we support – one of these being that the word does not describe the same thing as “cannabis”.

As explained by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health in the United States, the term “cannabis” refers to all products derived from the plant Cannabis sativa. “Marijuana”, meanwhile, only refers to “parts of or products from the plant Cannabis sativa that contain substantial amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).”

It is THC that is primarily responsible for the effects of marijuana on a person’s mental state that have sometimes contributed to the negative connotations the term has in the cannabis industry and the wider world. Indeed, some cannabis plants contain very little THC, and US law considers these plants to be “industrial hemp”, rather than marijuana.


All of this is before one even addresses suggestions that the widespread use of the term “marijuana” by early-20th-century prohibitionists may have been largely inspired by motivations to appeal to the xenophobia of that era. Indeed, in today’s age in which marijuana arrests continue to disproportionately impact on minorities, it has been suggested by some that “marijuana” is a racist term that should fall out of use.


Contact us now about how we can help drive your success in the cannabis space

Hopefully, the above will have given you a useful primer on the potentially deeply concerning issues and inaccuracy that can surround the use of the term “marijuana” today, and why we refrain from using the term in reference to our own services at Hempire in Gibraltar.


Enquire to our team today, and we would be pleased to provide further advice and insights into how we could work with you to support the creation and growth of your cannabis business.