We do not know exactly where the origin of the word weed is.
But the most common explanations go through Mexico, Spain and China.
Cannabis has always been referred to by a wide range of names.
The word “marijuana” found its way into the English language quite recently, in 1874. But the origin comes from the Spaniards who brought cannabis to Mexico to cultivate it first for its fiber, and not to use it for its psychotropic properties according to historians.
At that time the word had several spellings at that time the “marihuana” and “mariguana”.
The word “marijuana” has after a somewhat controversial and racist history in American culture.
In fact, in the early 1900s, Americans designated “weed” by its Latin name “cannabis” and the industrial form by the word “hemp” (hemp in French).
The racist and anti-immigration American movements of the early 20th century thus used the word “marijuana” to target the alleged geographical origin of consumers, supposedly going mad and violent after using cannabis.
These allegations contributed to the crackdown on illegal cannabis use, which resulted in a new tax in the United States, the “Marihuana Tax Act” in 1937.
It was in 1943 that the word “marie-jeanne” appeared in a Time article entitled “Music; The weed”:
“For its users, the drug has many names, often elusive. Marijuana can be called muggles, mooter, Mary Warner, Mary Jane, Indian hay, loco weed, love weed, bambalacha, mohasky, mu, moocah, grass, tea or blue sage. The cigarettes made from it are killers, goof-butts, joy-smokes, giggle-smokes or reefers. The word marijuana is of Mexican origin and means “the herb that intoxicates”. It is made from the Indian hemp plant, a green, sumac-like bush. Known in the pharmacopoeia as Cannabis Sativa, it is a source of important paint ingredients and rope fibers as well as narcotics. It can be grown easily almost anywhere, so tends to be cheap, like all drugs. »
In this Times article, it is understood that the name Mary Jane was one of many names identified as commonly used to refer to cannabis.
The Mexican origin of the word marijuana, separated into two words, Mari and Juana, similar to the traditional Spanish names Maria and Juana, would then become Mary Jane in English then later translated into the French language Marie Jeanne.
However, the Mexican origin of the word “marijuana” is not the only existing track.
Another theory holds that Chinese immigrants from western Mexico gave the plant its name: the origin would therefore come from the name of the plant in Chinese (ma rien hua) coming from the Spanish “marijuana”.
Or it would come from the colloquial Spanish expression for Chinese oregano “mejorana Chino.”
The mystery of the origin of the name marijuana ultimately goes with the multiplicity of cannabis.
Its semantic history reflects the different ways it has touched the men and women who have consumed it throughout history.