The future of popular strain names in Canada is in doubt following a Senate hearing last week in which some of the government’s top spokespeople on the marijuana file were grilled in the upper chamber of parliament.
At one point, Ontario Senator Art Eggleton asked Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor whether strain names that arguably appeal to children would be prohibited under the act. Shying away from directly answering the question, Petitpas Taylor replied that strict restrictions on the labelling, marketing and advertising of cannabis would be found in regulations to be announced at a later date.
During the hearings, Health Canada’s Twitter account tweeted out that there would be rules restricting the graphics and colours that could be placed on the packages of cannabis. While not addressing the issue of strain names directly, the tweet (and Petitpas Taylor’s response) alluded to the possibility that there could be very well be restrictions on names.
The #GoC efforts will help keep #cannabis out of the hands of youth through laws against selling or providing cannabis to youth, as well as through packaging and labelling restrictions and public health awareness. pic.twitter.com/1TX4frDA6p— Health Canada and PHAC (@GovCanHealth) February 6, 2018
And while we don't know whether the regulations will ban certain strain names, the Cannabis Act does allow for regulations to dictate the content that can or can’t be displayed on cannabis products. So here are 10 strains that could get banned when Canada legalizes recreational marijuana later this year.
While the strain itself has been used successfully to treat youths with disorders that cause severe seizures, the name - which refers to the popular children's book by E.B. White - has already been banned in Oregon because it appeals to children. And Canada could follow suit for the sake of keeping cannabis away from kids.
Ironically, the strain is one of the most popular to give to minors who use medical marijuana. Charlotte's Web contains a high level of CBD and a minute amount of THC, so parents are more comfortable to let their kids use oil extracted from this strain to treat their disorders.
Girl Scout Cookies
Besides being a potential lightning rod for claims of trademark infringement, this hybrid strain that crosses OG Kush with Durban Poison could be a big no-no in Canada. The organization the strain is named after, as you may already know, sells cookies in order to raise funds.
And the group isn't exactly thrilled with the cannabis industry after news broke that a Girl Scout reportedly sold more than 300 boxes of cookies in 6 hours outside a dispensary in California.
The classic board game for children is also the namesake of a popular cannabis strain. If that draws the ire of regulators, companies might be able to rename the strain after its lineage (reportedly Bay Platinum Cookies and Grand Daddy Purple), but the reference to cookies may also be a no-go for regulators.
Of course it was only a matter of time before the cannabis industry named some of their products after the kid-friendly 'Star Wars' saga, but that appeal to minors could see Skywalker OG - a heavy indica strain with a sliver of sativa in its lineage - getting dumped in the Sarlaac Pit.
The Canadian licensed producer Emblem Cannabis has already tried rebranding the strain as Tatooine Tango - another Star Wars reference, which might only be slightly less objectionable to regulators than the one named after Mark Hamill's character.
First Star Wars, and now Transformers? Will the cannabis industry ever cease to name their strains after popular kid-friendly movie series? Time will tell, but this is another strain banned in Oregon because, as state regulators noted, it’s a “a character... in a children’s book, TV show, or movie.”
Strains named after food products marketed to children will also draw the attention of regulators. So this hybrid stain - which is said to be a potent, long-lasting hybrid strain that crosses The White with Appalachia - might have to be rechristened before it can hit the Canadian market.
Like Lucky Charms, Skittles is a strain name that has been specifically banned by Oregon because it’s a food product “marketed to or by children.”
Some have tried to avoid that issue by referring to the indica-dominant strain online as Zkittlez, but that might not be enough to make Canadian regulators happy.
Products that potentially appeal to children aren't the only ones that could get targeted by regulators.
The sativa-heavy hybrid known as Alaskan Thunderfuck could ruffle feathers simply by including a swear word in its name. We don’t know if the government will ban companies from using curse words for strains, but it might be wise for marketers to play it safe and avoid any of the “seven dirty words you can never say on television” as famously trumpeted by comedian George Carlin.
Green Crack is a sativa strain that contains hints of mango and provides a mental buzz that energizes the consumer, which could be why the strain name refers to crack cocaine. On some online forums, the name appears to have been changed to 'Green Fluffy Bunnies,' but the new moniker hasn't taken off yet.
But Canadian companies may have to settle for the less popular name if regulators object to selling cannabis strains named after illicit substances.
What’s with cannabis strain names harkening to illegal drugs? Whatever the reason, if Green Crack is banned, then LSD - the strain said to be a cross between Mazar-I-Sharif and Skunk #1 - would likely face the same fate. It’s hard to know how cannabis companies could get around that problematic name. Perhaps claiming that LSD stands for “Let’s Smoke Dank” would allow them to keep the original moniker while remaining somewhat regulator-friendly.