World O’ Words: Got Time Famine? What can be done about that?

World O’ Words: Got Time Famine? What can be done about that?

Isn’t it alarming how the month is speeding past? The days are going by like comets.

One night, I’m looking up at the stars of the Summer Triangle, the next night the constellation Orion is staring down at me, balefully, like he wants to set his dogs on me.

We feel the weeks rushing towards winter, like our lives are flashing before our eyes. It makes me feel panicky and anxious, klutzy and accident-prone as I take shortcuts, trying to slow time down.

There’s a term for the feeling that we’re being overwhelmed by all the duties and obligations we must fit into an amount of time that is too short, or going by to quickly to fit them all in — Time Famine. This is the opposite of Time Affluence — the feeling that we have all the time in the world. Ah, sweet retirement.

Of course, there are those of us who won’t be able to retire ’til we’re 90. Years of Time Famine is what we have to look forward to. Time Famine creates a continual sense of personal crisis. Time Affluence uplifts us, makes us happier, more productive, better citizens. Perhaps the government should intervene.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was something we could all use, or take — for example, some legal, socially acceptable organic product, maybe gently taxed by various governments and sold over the counter — that would actually expand time, or at least give us the feeling that time was slowing down to a languorous crawl. Something to take the sharp edges off our day-to-day angst, mellow us out a bit, help us look at our problems in a different way — some drug or something that would make our food extra delicious and add new depths to the music we listen to …

Say, wait a minute!

This brings us to the question we’re all asking ourselves and each other. What, exactly, is the difference between cannabis and marijuana? And why is “cannabis” the term of use among the federal, provincial and municipal governments of Canada, the RCMP, and all other outlets and agencies with a vested interest or concern in the coming legalization of this popular herb, which will have all of us writing better poetry, presumably.

Well, there is no real difference at all. They are two names for the same genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae. Cannabis can be used for hemp fibre, hemp oil, medicinal purposes, or recreational use. Marijuana generally refers to the plant as concerns the two later uses — the flower buds, as it were, and not the stems.

Cannabis is a Latin word, originally Greek. Cannabis Sativa, or Activa, is the scientific name. And of course, as I’ve said before in this space, if you want to be taken seriously, say what the Romans say. Latin is a serious, muscular language (perhaps Greek would be more suited to the progressive governments of today).

Imagine Octavian, Consul of Rome before he was emperor, unfurling a scroll before the Roman Senate and declaiming “Si ills et fumigant!” *

Marijuana, on the other hand, is a beautiful, sexy, mysterious four-syllable word. Plus, it’s controversial. Coming to us from Mexican Spanish, there is a school of thought that says the word comes from Nahuatl, or the Aztec language, along with words like Peyote, Coyote and Guacamole. I would love to believe it is an Aztec word, but there is, apparently, no evidence that cannabis existed in the Americas before the Spanish conquest.

In any case, as cannabis became known in mainstream culture in the early 20th century, those who sought to demonize it used the word ‘marijuana’ in tandem with a derogatory, racist connection with Hispanics, African Americans, and entertainers, with their Satanic Jazz music (that’s a direct quote from the time) and other aspects of “reefer madness.”

Maybe there is a vestige of this stigma we unconsciously feel when we think of “marijuana,” and so we — or our public officials — instinctively avoid its use.

But a flower bud by any other name would still smell as sweet, as they say.

Yes indeed. The Latin “Cannabis” thus gives the coming legalization of recreational cannabis some Gravitas, some auctoritas, some Imperium. Fair enough. If you’re legalizing pot, better give it some gravitas. We’re all going to be giggly enough come October 17.

* Smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em!