With the launch of the retail industry for marijuana currently ongoing, there’s a constant stream of news relating to the industry coming out of Michigan. It’s now been stated that the word ‘marihuana’, which the state has used most commonly in the past to refer to the drug, is now being retired. Instead, it will now be called ‘marijuana’ in most cases.

Previously, using the spelling ‘marihuana’ was an outlined policy by the state regulators overseeing these matters.

It was even the case that emails between regulators and authorities would use that spelling, despite it not being the most commonly used spelling. This all goes way back to when the Marihuana Tax Act entered federal law in 1937. It was this that first introduced a tax on the drug. This federal spelling was adopted in Michigan in 1978 in its Public Health Code and has remained the case ever since.

It was one of those old historical quirks that just stayed in place despite the changes happening in the real world. There are countless examples of such instances, and this is just one of them. Even now, most state laws will carry on spelling the word with an ‘h’ rather than a ‘j’. Therefore, most legal references will carry on spelling it as marihuana. It’s more of a commercial decision than a legal one, with the state agreeing to the change due to external pressure.

However, any legal mentions of the drug will carry the spelling that, in the eyes of federal laws, is still regarded as the correct one, even if most people would disagree with that statement. A spokesman from LARA confirmed that references in official documents that are subject to laws and oversight will carry on using the old spelling, so there seems to be no debate around that issues as of yet.


It’s in more informal situations where we’ll see the difference in spelling emerge.

Officials are allowed to write marijuana if they wish, and the name of the regulatory body has also changed as a result of this change in policy. What was once the Bureau of Medical Marihuana Regulation will from now on be known as the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation.

One of the major reasons for bringing about these changes to the word used is that it makes communication between regulators, authorities and marijuana industry stakeholders much easier and simpler. If everyone is using the same language, it prevents problems and confusion that might emerge as a result of that divergence. It’s a sensible change that should work out for everyone going forward.

With the Michigan marijuana industry now really taking off and with more investors and entrepreneurs getting involved, now was always going to be the right time to make this kind of change if a change was going to ever occur. So from now on, you can expect to see less marihuana and more marijuana. It’s a small change but a positive step in the right direction as far as most people’s spelling preferences are concerned.