Halifax councillor to stop using word ‘marijuana,’ says term is racist

A Halifax councillor says he will no longer use the term “marijuana” because it is racist, sparking a social media debate over the well-used synonym for cannabis.

Coun. Shawn Cleary says a police officer he works with on a cannabis legalization task force recently brought it to his attention that the term has a racist history.

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Cleary says in the early 1900s during the criminalization of cannabis in the U.S., “marijuana” was used to demonize marginalized communities, namely Mexicans.

He says after doing some of his own research on the term’s origins, he decided to avoid using it, saying earlier this week on Twitter: “Let’s do what we can to not perpetuate racism.”

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His tweets have prompted a social media firestorm – including comments from fellow councillor Matt Whitman denouncing Cleary’s position.

Some Twitter users say they were unaware of the word’s racist history and thanked Cleary for informing them, while others questioned the validity of his comments.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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