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I know all these words have the same meaning and refer to a kind of drug.

Also, as far as I know, weed is slang for marijuana or cannabis. (Correct me if I’m wrong).

What I do not understand is the difference between these words. Is cannabis a formal word, and marijuana and weed both informal?

Does one or two of these words come from South America — for example, has a Spanish root — and the others come from elsewhere?

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As a tiny note, the Anglicization of "marijuana" leads to one of the street names for it: "Mary Jane". –  user730 Dec 28 '10 at 4:44
    
The word marijuana seems to be used more commonly by Americans. Cannabis and the slang names for it, are more common in the UK. –  Tristan r Jun 11 at 17:34

1 Answer 1

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It depends on the context. If you are referring to it scientifically, you call it cannabis (usually cannabis indica or cannabis sativa). Marijuana is a generic term mostly used by non-users. People who smoke the drug have a seemingly inexhaustible supply of slang terms for their favorite recreational drug, of which weed and bud are currently in vogue. You would not be likely to use those terms unless you don't mind people assuming you use the drug yourself, because they very likely will make that assumption.

EDIT: You can use the term pot in a disinterested way, as someone pointed out. Weed flirts with crossing the line, however, and bud is tantamount to a term of endearment.

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More normally 'depends' than 'depemds' :D –  Jonathan Leffler Dec 27 '10 at 22:44
    
>>You would not be likely to use those terms unless you don't mind people assuming you use the drug yourself>> Just to be sure, So if I mention that as "pot" then it means I use drug? But If I use Marijuana, it does not mean that. –  Dane Dec 27 '10 at 22:45
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Weed has significant uses completely unrelated to marijuana or cannabis - think horticulture or gardening. Without context, it could easily be misunderstood. –  Jonathan Leffler Dec 27 '10 at 22:45
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I disagree that "pot" implies usage. ("Weed" probably does.) "Pot" is, for me, the unmarked term, with "marijuana" and "cannabis" reserved for a more formal or scientific register. –  JSBձոգչ Dec 27 '10 at 22:54
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@Jonathan Leffler: True, but it's rarely ambiguous: "weed" is used uncountably for marijuana, and countably for other sorts of weeds. Consider "I picked weeds from my garden today" versus "I picked weed from my garden today". The latter definitely refers to marijuana. And if you say "I smoked weed today", there is no question about what kind. –  Jon Purdy Dec 28 '10 at 0:11

protected by tchrist Jun 11 at 19:30

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