- noun cannabis; marihuana or hashish. Very little illegally imported cannabis originates in India, but the potent, smokable strain of the hemp plant has the botanical name cannabis sativa indica. Indian hemp was a term employed by official and quasi-scientific authorities in the early 20th century (The Charms of Indian Hemp was the title of a 1907 publication). In the 1950s smokers of the drug also used the expression, but by the 1960s it was confined to judicial or journalese usage. The word cannabis largely supplanted the term in the 1970s.