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

The Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) is frequently asked why marijuana is sometimes spelled with a “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 past federal spelling, marihuana.

As governing state laws spell marihuana with an “h,” MRA legal communication and references to statutes in relation to the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, 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 Michigan statutes.