Cannabis is a noun, a genus of flowering plants in the Cannabaceae family. There are three subspecies of the Cannabis sativa species, also known as hemp, that most people may have heard of—Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa, and Cannabis ruderalis.

What is Cannabis and where did it come from?

The genus Cannabis is indigenous to Central Asia, and originated there and in upper South Asia. This is why so many landrace species are from these regions.

The idea of calling Cannabis sativa hemp is confusing to many Americans, but that is principally because the main difference between “hemp” and “marijuana” is not botanical, but a legal distinction. Those strains of Cannabis sativa with over 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are considered marijuana under federal law. This was established by the 2018 Farm Bill.

Cannabis is used to make many products, including hemp seeds, hemp fiber, hemp oils, hemp leaves, and of course as both a medical marijuana and recreational cannabis product. Growers select cannabis plants based on high fiber production to create industrial hemp products. Other cultivars are better for producing compounds, such as hash oil and hashish, for medical use.

Cannabis: Usage and Definition


  • “I used to call it marijuana, but then I learned about the racist history of drug laws in the United States, and I started calling it by its right name, cannabis.”
  • “Do you smoke cannabis? Or are you more of a vaper or edibles person?”
  • “I would love to try growing cannabis, but it seems really complicated.”

Other Words and Phrases that Mean Cannabis

There are literally hundreds of other words and phrases that stand in to mean cannabis. This is principally because cannabis being illegal means most people, at least in the past, have kept getting high a secret.

Illegality plus secrecy plus differences from place to place have led to a massive list of words for “cannabis” over time. We could never list them all here, but we can give you some of them:

  • 420
  • Ace
  • African bush
  • Airplane
  • Alice B. Toklas
  • Alligator cigarette
  • Asparagus
  • Aunt Mary
  • Bhang
  • Blaze
  • Blunt
  • Broccoli
  • Bud
  • Cabbage
  • Canamo
  • Cheeba
  • Christmas tree
  • Chronic
  • Dagga
  • Da kine
  • Dank
  • Devil’s lettuce
  • Doña Juanita (“Lady Jane” in Spanish)
  • Doobie
  • Dope
  • Fatty
  • Flower
  • Ganja
  • Golden
  • Grass
  • Green
  • Hashish
  • Hay
  • Herb
  • Holy weed
  • Indian hemp
  • Kaya
  • Kief
  • Kind
  • Kumba
  • Kush
  • Laughing grass
  • Left-handed cigarette
  • Lid
  • Loco weed
  • Magic dragon
  • Mary Jane
  • Maui-wowie
  • MJ
  • Pakalolo (Hawaiian for “crazy tobacco”)
  • Pot
  • Rasta weed
  • Reefer
  • Roach
  • Sinsemilla
  • Sin Spinach
  • Skunk
  • Spliff
  • Stash
  • Stick
  • Stink weed
  • Trees
  • Wacky Tabacky
  • Weed
Cannabis Definition
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