When we talk about marijuana, are we talking about the leaves, stems, flowers, seeds or a mixture of all the above components? Or, when I say to you that, “I do weed”, what comes to your mind, huh? Over time, I have come to appreciate marijuana so much and it’s value to our existence, human beings and non-human beings, as a whole. While on this same journey of time, I have come to dislike how we talk about this great plant, marijuana and how we express ourselves about it. For one, I believe this is a talk that is way over-due. The moment we start looking at marijuana as a plant before anything else, that will be the moment so much will make sense now and we will definitely get better.

Why marijuana? Why must we speak better of it? Let me shed some light.

FILE – In this Dec. 13, 2017, file photo, a marijuana plant grows under artificial light at an indoor facility in Portland, Maine. State officials have deemed dozens of applications to run marijuana businesses to be complete, a major step on the way to the first legal sales of the drug for adult use. Mainers voted in favor of legal recreational marijuana use and sales in 2016.(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Marijuana is a plant. Many times, green in colour with leaves in threes’ or what you can call, trifoliate leaves. Sometimes, marijuana is brown and gray. Over time, marijuana has been used for numerous purposes like smoking it for recreation, reduction of pain, oils extracted from it have been used as health-care products among others. Marijuana can be consumed in form of smoke, chewing it, having it as a drink among others. Numerous sources say that marijuana has over 400 names namely weed, cannabis, pot, herb, bud, dope, spliff, reefer, grass, ganja, 420, chronic, Mary Jane, gangster, boom, skunk, joint. In Uganda, marijuana has names like enjaga, enjaaye, ekikoola, bhang, the leaf, ganja, joint et cetera.

Now, this is where it gets very interesting… In the field of medicine, it isn’t a secret anymore that marijuana is so important for numerous purposes like appetite induction for clients with lack of appetite or reducing pain amongst cancer patients for example, right? Why is it that so many times, you and I will not easily say that, “the doctor prescribed weed 2 times a day” but rather you will say, “the doctor prescribed two tablets or an ointment 2 times a day”? Is the name marijuana too “unsanitary” to be said out loud? How different am I from you, smoking my herb and you who is rubbing it against your skin?

Sometimes, marijuana will be used for spiritual purposes; in meditation. It is lit up and the smoke of it gets to fill up in the air of the surrounding. In religious settings, it is used as incense as well. Why is it that then we don’t say you were “doing ganja” but rather we say, “we were creating an ambience”? Is it because you consider religious settings more “cleaner” than other settings? Double standards, no?

I say we unlearn what we know and get to a point where we comfortably say the name “marijuana”, by choice, without sanitizing it or feeling ashamed. Because of conditioning from our on-set as little ones, we have been made to believe marijuana is so dangerous and it is something we must keep away from but I guess by now, you know that this is not true. What is true is that marijuana is not dangerous, it is not to blame for the things we do and also, marijuana is here for us, to serve us and has always been. But that begins from calling it by it’s name, just like how you would call something that you love, with a lot of affection.

That way, if I smoke my ganja and something goes wrong, I can freely go to the nearest medical personnel for assistance and actually share with them what is actually hurting me, without fear or guilt. That said, have you heard about “SCROMITING”? It is basically somebody that has had interaction with marijuana in the past, screaming so loudly as they vomit. Picture that!!! What is somebody, in this scenario, supposed to do if they know you are going to judge them?

Or, if I am to contribute to a discussion about marijuana at community-level, I get to do so as freely as possible. Most of all, now that Uganda is working around legalizing and commercializing marijuana sale, your opinion on the subject matters a lot. I strongly encourage you to say it out loud for the whole world to hear. Make your standpoint at referring to all forms of marijuana as marijuana, for what it is. There is no one authority over marijuana but you are the authority over how you speak about it. Besides, we all need to know where the line is drawn between bad and good, abuse and use, too much and too little when it comes to marijuana. How are institutions and individuals plying the marijuana trade supposed to trust, invest, share and transact with the rest of us, if we are going to shame them first before we begin to “accept” them?

Personally, I think we need to learn about drugs and not how to do them, at school, and with a very keen focus on marijuana. It is simply because of issues like this, where we play around with the word marijuana without really getting to know the heart and soul of marijuana. Informed minds stand better chances of making better informed decisions, no?

You could know something that hasn’t been heard of lately and it could be the game-changer in that endeavours, you know.