Are you brushing up on your cannabis translation terminology?

by OFER TIROSH 27/09/2018
Are you brushing up on your cannabis translation terminology?

Last year (and indeed, this year too), the hottest topic in the translation sector was video translation. Translators looking to stay at the forefront of current trends were brushing up on their transcription skills or frantically learning how to timestamp subtitles. Now, cannabis company translation has come to the fore as the next big thing. 

Cannabis company translation

Translation requests for cannabis companies are increasing. Given the growth of the medical marijuana industry around the world – alongside the increasing recreational use of cannabis – this is a natural progression. It also makes for an interesting variety of translation requests; companies working in the marijuana industry have translation needs as diverse as medical documentation and food labels. 

Estimates show that there are now as many as 28,000 cannabis-related businesses in the US alone. The recreational side of the market is booming, with estimates giving it a value of $11,760 million worth of sales.  

Where in the US is cannabis legal?

At present, the recreational use of cannabis by adults is legal in the US in eight states: Colorado, Washington, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Alaska, Nevada and Oregon. It is also broadly legal for medical purposes in another 23 states. That’s over half of the US where cannabis is legal in one form or another. 

The first states to legalize it for recreational use were Colorado and Washington, back in 2012. Seeing that neither state imploded, and that both experienced a significant economic boom thanks to the marijuana industry, other states have followed in the years since. Some are even going so far as to expunge criminal records and re-try those convicted of cannabis-related offences. 

What does this mean for the translation industry?

As with any growing sector, the economic impact of cannabis legalization is spreading far and wide. Here at Tomedes, we’ve noticed a considerable increase in the number of requests for translation from cannabis companies. Just like for any other business sector, the translations need to be accurate and delivered on time. They cover a wide range of language pairings. 

The translation community needs to respond to this increase – we need to ensure that we are au fait with the relevant terminology and identify any trends that require particular expertise. The crossover between cannabis translation and legal translation is a good example of this. In California, some 4.6 million Hispanic residents either don’t speak English well or don’t speak it at all, yet the state’s justice system operates in English. As such, translators and interpreters will be required to help some of those in the Hispanic community who have been convicted of marijuana-related crimes. As Criminal Defence Attorney Jan Ronis comments,

“The California Department of Justice now has to reach out to about 200-thousand people and let them know, they are eligible for reduced sentences… So this means the California D.O.J. will now be charged with finding these people and let them know they are eligible for a reduction of sentence. In some cases, charges will be dropped.”

It’s a huge undertaking, and one in which translation will inevitably play a role. And that’s just one element of the whole legalization process in one state! 

Keeping up with cannabis translation trends

For professional translators, keeping up with cannabis translation trends is just like building up experience in any other sector. It’s a question of learning key phrases and, in this case, plenty of slang terms. For those looking to specialise in translation for cannabis companies, there will be some technical learning too, from the numerous strains to the terms that relate to the product’s scientific and medical uses. It’s an investment of time that could prove very lucrative over the years ahead! 

Final thoughts

Are you brushing up on your cannabis translation terminology? Is this going to be one of 2019’s biggest translation trends? Leave a comment to share your thoughts. 

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