So, what's your preference? Liquid Gold Vape Pen Super Silver Haze or Blue Diesel? As marijuana has gone legit, growers rely more than ever on catchy names as a branding tool. But with greater legalization comes greater responsibility. Some say the names can mislead consumers about their medicinal effects.
Marijuana has always had an impressive lexicon of nicknames. But with legalization, "purveyors of the pungent herb are christening their newest strains with the care of commercial marketers," writes the Los Angeles Times:
Striking the right handle matters. A memorable name like Purple Haze or Maui Waui can resonate for decades. It can also make the difference in today's crowded field of expertly grown pot, where one high is often as good as another. All marijuana is derived from two parent strains: indica, which is associated with a sleepy body high, and sativa, which is believed to make users more energetic. Hundreds of hybrids now exist.
With the assistance of Leafly.com—which lists hundreds of strains with their effects and ratings based on user reviews—the LA Times has produced this handy, interactive infographic. ("Butterscotch," for instance is an indica-dominant cannabis strain that owes its name to its candy-sweet aroma. It's recommended for insomnia.)
Currently, the U.S. doesn't permit trademarking marijuana brand names. Chemist Jeff Raber examined 1,500 samples of cannabis in California and found little genetic cohesion between varieties of the same name:
"I think most of the time the name is just for marketing," he said. "We've also seen names often changed. So one week I have on the shelf cannabis name A. It doesn't sell. So I'll hide it for a day, bring it out under name B. All of a sudden it's very popular."
That poses a serious problem for the credibility of medical marijuana, Raber said.
"If I am a patient relying on finding Blue Dream to help me go to sleep at night, for example, then I need to find the right Blue Dream," Raber said. "It's unfair and unethical to me if someone says, 'Here's some Blue Dream,' because you're going to buy it but it's not going to provide the right medical assistance. In a medical context, that's the worst thing I can imagine."
However, as more states seem inclined to legalize medical marijuana, there will likely be more regulations and standardization—which probably means we'll also see more traditional forms of marketing than the ones currently used.
"We sit there and we call all our friends and smoke," says one of the co-owners of DNA Genetics, a leading cannabis seed bank in Amsterdam. "That's a brainstorm session."