Know your Canna-Lingo: Say This, Not That


Normalizing the consumption of cannabis and overcoming the stoner stigma can be fueled by the vocab we use. Be in the know, sound credible, and help change the relationship we have with cannabis through these linguistic upgrades.


Full confession – it took me a while to embrace these in my everyday conversation. It’s SO easy to default to the commonplace norm. In the past my Dad used to chide me for using “like” in every other sentence (and that’s not an easy word to remove from your teenage lexicon!), yet I’m forever grateful he trained me to recognize I was about to say it before it came out of my mouth. Same goes for updating your canna-lingo. It takes a conscious approach to dialogue to correct ingrained habits.


When it comes to changing – sometimes lifelong – perceptions, our word choices can’t be underestimated. In some cases, these upgrades can reduce outdated slanderous and racial connotations, and in some cases it removes cannabis from the drug references that undermine the true potential of this plant.


Say This ———- Not That

Cannabis ———- Marijuana

Consume / Consumer ———- Use / User

Illicit Market ———- Black Market

Cultivar ———- Strain

Responsible Adult Consumption ———- Recreational

Intoxicating ———- Psychoactive



So what’s the big deal?

·     MARIJUANA, while synonymous for cannabis, is associated with negative stigma. Originally used with racial connotation throughout prohibition, marijuana has also come to be known as a dangerous and addictive intoxicant, not a holistic medicine. I encourage you to #callitcannabis instead!

·      To “USE” cannabis implies a drug abuse pattern, whereas “CONSUME” aligns cannabis with conscious and intentional habits, more akin to the consumption of nutrients, sunshine, fresh air and water – the bounty of mother earth.

·      Similar to Marijuana, the “BLACK MARKET” (referring to unregulated product) relates to unnecessary racial connotations that arose during prohibition and the power struggle played out over cannabis – especially in the US.

·      CULTIVAR refers to how we classify different cannabis varieties based on compounds found within each plant, and characteristics related to how it’s cultivated.

·      RECREATIONAL consumption assumes a goal of intoxication without therapeutic benefit. Even THC, the compound that gets us “high” has proven medical applications, including pain relief and mood enhancement. Responsible adult consumption empowers us to experience cannabis in more ways than simply “getting high” (side note: I get it… calling it recreational cannabis comes off the tongue easier, so use this one when you can!).

·      A PSYCHOACTIVE experience refers to cannabis’ ability to modulate mood and emotional response. Previously it was thought CBD, a NON-INTOXICATING compound was also non-psychoactive, but it’s more accurate to describe it as non-intoxicating. CBD in fact can be psychoactive, as it can affect your mood and emotional response by providing a sense of calm, and by softening the intensity of anxious thoughts.


My goal is simply to contribute to a more positive narrative around cannabis consumption and allow us to open our minds and palettes to greater wellbeing through cannabis.


Language can be a subtle yet poignant catalyst for social change.