History of Marijuana

Marijuana is a colloquial word. One theory about it’s exact derivation are that it’s a reference to a prostitute or brothel “Maria y Juana” (Mary and Jane).

Cannabis in the form of hash, was ingested by a small number of people in the United States; but the smoking it was a trend started by two disenfranchised populations, African and Native American peoples. Hemp had been grown primarily as fiber by their owners, but black slaves knew the crop had psychoactive properties from their experience with dagga back in Africa. They planted and cultivated cannabis sativa as a release from their indentured lives, and exposed the practice to Native Americans’, who came to adopt it and use it as a plant of divine origin, and included it with their sacred rituals. They passed it down as their “old knowledge”. The plant spread like a weed, and grew wild across the region. At some point, a genius began rolling theirs into cigarettes, and the practice caught on. It was an extremely convenient method to ingest, when you are doing hard labor.

Cigarettes from cannabis were referred to as marijuana, and because it was enjoyed by laborers, and musicians that shred the need to ease a hard life of traveling with circuses or working in saloons for long hours; it was met with bias and bigotry.

When I came up with the word Marijuasana, I was in San Francisco on Spring Break from my one and only semester at Naropa. The teacher of my yoga class, Brooke Gessay, had shared with us how her little 2 year old son would say asana. Her imitation of him was so cute, like an inside joke with my brain, it began to be the way I thought of and pronounced asana.

By then I knew that I wanted to start a thing with cannabis and yoga, and I strongly believed it should be a neologism, Between visiting the Embarcadero and walking around in the Bay my brain put it together. Marijuana + asana = Marijuasana!

I’m aware of the opinion that usage of the word marijuana is something to shun because it validates the old DARE-program influenced stigma of cannabis use and the bias against the people who use it. But I always called it marijuana. And I resent the notion that we should feel ashamed of this.

Marijuasana is a port manteau. Breakfast and lunch becoming brunch is a good example of this, or motor plus hotel becoming motel. The port manteau bot on Reddit works by looking for 3 letter strings in both words in which to stitch the two words together.

‘Asana’ is a sanskrit word translated as “pose”, “position” and “to sit with” and it completes the end of every title for the patterns we make with our bodies. Asana as a concept could be thought of as a template  that we move through. (More on this in Chapter x). With Marijuasana we “sit with” marijuana.