Difference Between Marijuana and Weed (With Table)

Marijuana vs Weed

Marijuana and Weed are two different terms used to refer to the same plant, Cannabis. Cannabis is widely cultivated all over the temperate zones for the production of hemp fibre on one hand and as a source for the production of psychoactive drugs like Marijuana on the other.

Marijuana is a crude psychoactive drug made from the dried and crushed leaves or flowers of plants of the cannabis genus. The active component is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is also used in foods and drinks.

The colloquial term for Marijuana is Weed. It was initially used to refer to the way cannabis or marijuana is smoked. It was first used in the popular culture as an alternative term for “Marijuana cigarette”. And as such, it also implies a form of tobacco product.

The difference between Marijuana and Weed is that the former is used to describe the raw drug obtained from the Cannabis plant. The latter on the other hand, is a slang term and is used to refer to Marijuana cigarettes.


Comparison Table Between Marijuana and Weed (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonMarijuanaWeed
Used forRefers to the plant of the Cannabis genus.Refers to the cigarettes made up of Marijuana.
Used byBoth users and non-users. Mostly users.
Used in Legislations YesNo
Other meanings No. Invariably refers to the hemp plant.Yes. Can be used to refer to unwanted plants that grow alongside the main plant.


What is Marijuana?

It is an unrefined drug that is prepared from the dried and crushed leaves or flowers of plants of the genus Cannabis. It is pronounced as ‘marihuana’ and have diverse colloquial names like pot, grass, tea and weed. It is often called by the name of the plant itself that is cannabis. But it is important to note that cannabis is the name of the plant genus from which Marijuana is produced.

Cannabis is mainly cultivated for the production of hemp fibre, which is obtained from the cane-like variety. However, cannabis has a shorter, branchy variety which constitutes the main source of the production of Marijuana drugs. The leaves and flowers of this group of the cannabis plant have a higher level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a psychoactive substance that constitutes the main ingredient of the Marijuana drug. When a person takes this drug, he feels a variety of sensations and effects in his body which ranges from soothing of pain and relaxation to impairment of memory and discomfort.

Some of the short-term effects of Marijuana include changes in sense perceptions, fluctuations in mood, impaired memory, delusions and hallucinations. It has a long term impact on the reproductive system, respiratory system and the central nervous system as well. Consequently, the usage of Marijuana has been declared illegal by the International Opium Convention of 1925.

It is important to note that the psychological and physical effects of Marijuana including mild euphoria and changes in vision and judgement depend on the strength and amount consumed, the way it has been taken e.g. smoking, eating or drinking and the experience of the user.

Its long term use may lead to tolerance and may produce withdrawal symptoms in some users. However, in most cases the drug causes addiction. Despite its harmful effects, Marijuana has used as a sedative or an analgesic (pain reliever) for almost 3,000 years.

It was in use in China by the 3rd millennium BCE and had reached Europe by 5th century BCE. Today, it is used all over the world but mainly as a source of addiction.

Nonetheless, one may find it interesting to note that Marijuana is often regarded as medically therapeutic for patients suffering from pain often associated with certain chronic disorders or diseases. Consequently, Canada became the first country in 2001 to legalise the use of medical marijuana by people suffering from chronic conditions and terminal illness.

  Also in June 2018, a substance called cannabidiol found in Marijuana has been approved as a treatment for certain forms of epilepsy.

It follows that there are many controversies among people over the legalization of the intake of Marijuana. While supporters of legalization consider it to be a more benign drug than alcohol, opponents of legalization claim that it is addictive and leads to use of more serious drugs.


What is Weed?

It is one of the many names by which Marijuana is known. The term was first used in 1929 to refer specifically to cigarettes made up of Marijuana. This was the time when American people began smoking Marijuana or Weed for mental relaxation to take a break from or forget the torments of the World War and the Great Depression for a brief period.

It was initially used to describe the procedure for smoking cannabis or marijuana. As per the information given by the Oxford English Dictionary, the term made its first appearance in the print media in 1932 through a weekly newspaper named The Chicago Defender. The weekly which was once described as the most vicious among all the Negro journals, described how the poor ‘weed’ or ‘reefer’ or marijuana- the narcotised cigarette reached the posh areas of Park Avenue from the destitute Harlem.

It reached the United Kingdom in 1932 by the way of a famous magazine on music. The magazine provided a review on the “Reefer Man” and “Song of the Weed” and argued that the readers should try them and it is worth their money.

In contemporary times, ‘weed’ has become one of the most popular alternative names for Marijuana. However, for several years it remained in the periphery until the 1990s when a new generation of Marijuana smokers emerged. These people wanted to abandon the traditional slangs for Marijuana such as pot (an African-American slang originated in the 1930s) or dope or even grass.

Besides, it was considered funny and this worked in favour of the term as at that time anything concerning Marijuana e.g. name, reactions, behaviour etc. was considered funny.

However, despite its popularity among the youth, the term is neither used in professional journalism nor is it considered appropriate in legal language. The popular word used for Marijuana in newspapers and magazines is ‘Pot’. While in the legal profession, the original term ‘Marijuana’ is used.


Main Differences Between Marijuana and Weed

  • Both the terms are used to refer to the cannabis plant. But the term ‘Marijuana’ gives a clearer picture of the plant from which it is extracted than the term ‘weed’ as the latter is mainly used to describe the cigarettes made from Marijuana.
  • Chronologically, the term ‘Marijuana’ is older than the term ‘Weed’. While the former was used for the first time in 1910, the latter was first used in 1929.
  • Marijuana is considered a more common term than Weed as it is used by both users and non-users.
  • The term Marijuana is held to be more formal and is used in legislation and legal proceedings. While, ‘Weed’ is slang and therefore considered inappropriate in legal language.
  • ‘Weed’ is a term that may also be used to describe the unwanted plants that grow alongside the main plant. But the term ‘Marijuana’ invariably regards to the hemp plant.



Both Marijuana and Weed refer to the Cannabis plant. But Marijuana gives a better insight into the exact nature of the plant from which it is produced. Also as a term, Marijuana is more formal as it is often used in the names of legislation and legal proceedings concerning Cannabis production.

But it is not true in case of Weed as Weed is a slang word. Also, if placed in a timeline, it would become clear that the usage of the term ‘Marijuana’ is much older than that of the term ‘Weed’. However, in contemporary times, the term ‘Weed’ is more popular used than the term ‘Marijuana’.


Word Cloud for Difference Between Marijuana and Weed

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Marijuana and Weed. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

Difference between Marijuana and Weed