Maria Magdalena is one of the most famous, and beloved prostitutes in history. Her story teaches us not to judge, to accept people for their past sins. That even Jesus, the son of God, could overlook her previous demons and accept her into his glory. It’s ironic what has become of her name, Maria. The most famous whore, is a household name, a common name for abuelitas all over Mexico. It’s a name that’s synonymous for Mexican girls, a name shared by none other than Maria Juana.
Maria Juana is a fictional character, a name used to refer to marihuana. It’s the Spanish equivalent to Mary Jane, and while Mary Jane is America’s “main thang”, Maria Juana gets a lot more shit. Latinos seem to hold strong to a negative prejudice on our girl. It makes me wonder, if more minorities knew the origins of marihuana, would they be as willing to demonize it? With famous Latinos like Juanes and Gael Garcia Bernal, hell, even Pancho Villa being proud users of the plant, it surprises me that legalization in Latin countries was not received with as much praise as here in the US. So, why the stigma?
The term marihuana has origins in Spanish. It was formerly believed to have originated by the Aztecs. Others argue that it has Chinese origins. Depending on how the word is pronounced or broken up. Marihuana was the name popularized when it was introduced in the US. It maintained its ethnic sound because Americans in the early 1900’s, like now, demonized things associated with the Latino and Chinese communities. They wanted it to sound foreign so that it would be viewed negatively, leading to its criminalization. There’s a huge conspiracy about why it was actually criminalized, but the fact is, they used the Mexican revolutionaries as a scapegoat. Because cannabis and “pot” were ok terms, but marihuana sounded dirty. ‘Murica.
We already know hemp can be used for just about anything. Including paper, clothes, and even for food consumption. It’s, by many cultures, considered a magical plant. One that’s used to treat stomach problems, epilepsy and other major disorders. We all had a tia that kept marihuana in a green bottle of alcohol for muscle aches. So while as a culture, we acknowledge its benefits, we look down at its recreational use. Obviously this does not apply to the new “Latinx” generation, who are a wholly accepting bunch. This is more for our older generation, and even millennials.
I guess I understand the negative connotations. Marihuana is the preferred drug for gangeros and hoodlums alike. It has often been referred to as a poor man’s drug, and in Mexico they refer to these low class users as “marihuanitos”. It’s harder for Latino’s to associate marihuana usage to successful Latino’s because the US has commercialized images like that of Cheech and Chong. And while they are a national treasure, they are only one type of marihuana user. As Latinos, we need to normalize users like Santana and Paulina Rubio. Users who are successful and seemingly normal. Users who the new generation can look up to and be influenced by. Because if we can forgive Maria Magdalena for being a whore, we can definitely forgive Maria Juana for being a drug.