As UC Davis strives to build and maintain a culture and climate based on mutual respect and caring (see Principles of Community), we choose to avoid use of the word “marijuana” as much as possible, even though it is a term used in legislative documents at both State and Federal levels, since the term was popularized to negatively associate the drug with the Latino community.
To provide context, reports on use of the cannabis plant date as far back as 2000–1400 BCE in the Indian subcontinent. The Greek historian Herodotus described central Eurasian Scythians taking hemp seed steam baths. Throughout the 19th century, news reports and medical journal articles almost always used the plant's formal name, cannabis.
Use of the term “marijuana” (also spelled “marihuana”), the Spanish word for the plant, increased in the United States during the early part of the 20th century as opponents of the drug sought to stigmatize it with a foreign-sounding name during a period when a wave of Mexican immigrants headed north following the Mexican Revolution. This advanced the perception that use of the drug was tied to people of color. The word was codified into law and became part of common American English with the passing of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.