On Sunday, the Las Cruces Sun ran an article talking about Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s recreational marijuana legalization push and the terminology that the dope industry has been using to euphemize marijuana: “cannabis.”
The article claims that many industry leaders prefer the term “cannabis,” which is the drug’s scientific term to “marijuana” “given the term’s association with criminality as well as racist animus toward Latino and other non-white social groups.”
“It played into branding immigrants as a problem and it played into branding people of color as a threat to white America,” claimed New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce executive director Ben Lewinger. He added, “I think we absolutely need to stop saying ‘marijuana’ — today.”
Lewinger also claims that using the term “recreational” is also discriminatory, saying, “Some advocates say the crude distinction between ‘recreational’ and ‘medicinal’ use has the effect of stigmatizing those who use cannabis without a physician’s signature or a state-minted medical cannabis card.”
“I would say a lot of people who use cannabis ‘recreationally’ are using it to help them sleep, or for stress relief, or for anxiety reduction, or for pain management even if they’re not enrolled in the medical program right now,” Lewinger said.
Regarding the terms “black market,” “illicit market,” or “illegal market” marijuana, Lewinger claims that what makes these terms offensive to him is the fact that “what is illicit or unlawful gets decided by who writes the laws — i.e., who holds power.” Essentially, he thinks that because white men hold places of power in government, the very act of not legalizing recreational weed is racist.
“The medical cannabis industry, which is largely owned by white men — they’re still engaging in federally illegal activity right now,” Lewinger said, “but we don’t talk about it in the same way that we would of a person of color growing and selling cannabis.”
“When we talk about undoing the harms of the war on drugs that has disproportionately impacted Black and brown people in the United States, part of that is acknowledging that it’s very much those people of color who are now in jail who are the trailblazers for cannabis in the United States,” says Lewinger.
Previously, while speaking on the “New Mexico Grass” podcast, Lewinger said that the left-wing social justice aspects of a marijuana bill are “super important” and “absolutely required” for the bill. He said, “We absolutely have to do that.”
He also said that he thought the Democrats’ recreational marijuana bill had an 88% to 100% chance of passing during a special session of the New Mexico Legislature.
Gov. Lujan Grisham has announced a special session to commence on March 30 to hash out the marijuana bill, as well as an economic development program, which is likely to extend through Holy Week ahead of Easter.