Why is marijuana sometimes spelled with an "h" and other times spelled with a "j"?

LARA’s Bureau of Marijuana Regulation (BMR) is frequently asked why marijuana is sometimes spelled with an “h” and other times is spelled with a ”j.” Both spellings – marijuana and marihuana – are acceptable. To avoid confusion, many in the industry refer to the botanical plant — cannabis. While the spelling with a “j” is more common today, you will still see Michigan law using the “h” spelling.

The spelling of marijuana has a long history in the United States. Michigan’s history primarily starts from the spelling that was chosen for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Michigan adopted its statutory definition of marijuana in the Public Health Code, utilizing the then current federal spelling, marihuana.

As governing state laws spell marihuana with an “h,” BMR legal communication and references to statutes in relation to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act or the Michigan Medical Facilities Licensing Act or the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act – and the corresponding administrative rules will use an “h” in the spelling of Marihuana. In non-formal communication, “j” will generally be used.

An act of the Michigan Legislature would be required in order to change the spelling of marijuana in the Michigan statutes, such as the Public Health Code or the newer marijuana laws.