According to a new study that was published in the journal PLOS-ONE, calling marijuana cannabis does not boost support for legalization.
“Throughout each of our tests, we find no evidence to suggest that the public distinguishes between the terms ‘marijuana’ and ‘cannabis,’” the study’s authors wrote.
To assess public attitudes about “marijuana” compared to the word “cannabis,” researchers at Vanderbilt University partnered with YouGov to survey 1,600 adults in the U.S. The survey asked participants a broad range of questions to get their opinions on one of four randomly assigned terms: “marijuana,” “cannabis,” “medical marijuana” or “medical cannabis.” Topics included legalization, moral acceptability, tolerance of drug activities, perceptions of harms and stereotypes of users.
The survey revealed that 50.1 percent and 50.3 percent support the legalization of marijuana and cannabis, respectively.
The authors noted there is a “slight uptick” in how much they support cannabis legalization with 34.3 percent strongly supporting “cannabis legalization,” compared to 26 percent who strongly support “marijuana legalization.” Support for legalization also increases when the term “medical” is attached.
“In each and every test, the name frame (‘marijuana’ versus ‘cannabis’) has no impact on opinion toward the drug.”
“For many years,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano told Marijuana Moment, “this issue has been a source of passionate debate within marijuana law reform circles. There now exists some data to better focus this discussion and to provide some important insight.”
“Changing the hearts and minds of the public with regard to marijuana has always been about substance, not terminology,” Armentano continued. “Reformers are winning the legalization debate on the strength of our core arguments — namely, the fact that legalization and regulation is better for public health and safety than is criminalization — and not because of any particular change in the lexicon surrounding the cannabis plant.”