Today, the Spanish term ‘marijuana’ is more recognizable and commonly used in the U.S. than ‘cannabis’. Nonetheless, we must recognize that its American usage began as an ethnic slur popularized by anti-narcotic crusaders to vilify cannabis. By calling it ‘marijuana’, a group of politicians created the false impression that cannabis was introduced to the U.S. by Mexican immigrants. Thus, in naming their organization, the founders of DFCR chose to reclaim the proper medical name of the drug and the scientific name of the plant. Cannabis is also the word presently favored in almost all medical and scientific publications.
One of the key goals of cannabis legalization has been to end the harmful effects of cannabis-related arrests and convictions. However, over 8 million people have been arrested for cannabis-related offenses since just 2001 and, as of 2018, it was estimated that over 20,000 individuals were in state or federal penitentiaries serving cannabis-related sentences.