In efforts to pave the way for legal cannabis nationwide, industry professionals are calling upon their cannabis colleagues to drop the infringing name of the ‘Girl Scout Cookie’ strain.
“As we become more of an industry, we have to adhere to all the rules and regulations other industries have to adhere to,” Jaime Lewis, Founder and CEO at Mountain Medicine tells DOPE Magazine.
There’s a lot at stake for state-legal cannabis markets as the industry matures into what’s projected to be a multi-billion-dollar sector. A low-hanging fruit, the issue of trademark infringement, can be easily resolved by dropping the name from the cannabis vernacular.
Lewis adds that it’s just bad business to use trademarked names. “Using brand names that are already trademarked shouldn’t happen. Because we’re so often in the public eye, we have a responsibility to hold ourselves to a higher standard and set the tone for newly regulated industries to come.”
The naming of the ‘Girl Scout Cookies’ strain is a direct result of the underground ‘safe-space’ once created by the cannabis black market. Once hidden from the legal marketplace, the issue is now being brought to light.
“Anytime we see our trademark we have issued a cease and desist letter,” a spokesman for Girl Scouts of America tells DOPE Magazine, “we’ve done it before and will do it again.”
A nonprofit organization, the Girl Scouts of America pride themselves on teaching leadership skills to young girls. They sell Girl Scout Cookies to empower girls to do ‘extraordinary things,’ and they are sending cease and desist letters to some companies who are not respecting their trademark.
Thought leaders and business owners are now left to answer for the naming issues that stem from decades past.
Leah Heise is the CEO of Women Grow, an organization that works to empower female entrepreneurs in the cannabis space. She has two daughters who have been Girl Scouts, and she agrees that it’s high time her industry ceases to use the name.
“We need to start naming strains so that they aren’t attractive to children. It is part of the maturation process of the industry. The names also do not mean anything because there is no consistency from grow to grow, or state to state. We should have standardized strain profiles across the board based on strain genomics.”
“We should not be using trademarked names without a licensing agreement,” she continues, “That, too, is a sign of a maturing industry.”
BUT WOULD A COOKIE BY ANY OTHER NAME SMELL AS SWEET?
Fans of the high potency strain love it for its indica qualities, and it’s reported therapeutic benefits of relaxing muscles, easing pain and tension.
According to a DOPE Magazine review of the cannabis strain by Khan Family Organics, ‘Girl Scout Cookies’ brings forth aromas of “spicy mint and sweet lavender followed by an unmistakable cookie scent, demonstrating this strain is a terpene powerhouse.”
The term ‘Girl Scout Cookies’ has been a registered trademark (Reg. # 0964309) since 1936, and according to the Girl Scouts of America web site, “The use of official insignia, all of which is trademarked, is highly restrictive.”
The Girl Scouts of America spokesperson says there hasn’t been any litigation against a cannabis company yet, adding that he finds most violators to be cooperative. However, they take trademark violation seriously. “I don’t think it happens frequently—a case-by-case basis. If you want to use the trademark, you have to come to us.”
The organization’s spokesperson also tells DOPE Magazine that its ‘disconcerting’ to see the name used for a drug that’s intended for adults.
CEASE AND DESIST: DISABLE COOKIES
“Our goal is to keep cannabis away from children, unless for medicine under a doctor’s care,” says Debby Goldsberry, Executive Director of the Magnolia Oakland dispensary. The California dispensary was one of the most recent businesses to receive a cease and desist letter form Girl Scouts of America.
Goldsberry agrees, it’s a cut and dry issue – and they were in the wrong.
“We knew this was coming,” she admits, “A lot of people think you can treat it like a parody, but it’s not funny; it’s violation of a trademark.”
The dispensary renamed what product they could, returned some they couldn’t. Overall, everything with the name ‘Girl Scout Cookie’ was pulled from their shelves within an hour of the letter.
She believes there’s always been a lot of discomfort in using the name, however, instead of addressing the issue, most people just rename it ‘Platinum Cookies’ or ‘GSC’.
Magnolia Oakland isn’t the first, and probably not the last to get caught up in the trademark violation.
“Everyone else may be quiet about it but we are an advocacy organization and we’re trying to spread the word,” Goldsberry explains, “We sent a memo to our suppliers saying that we won’t accept products with that name—and they should change the name regardless, because they are bound to get the letter next.”
TAKING THE INDUSTRY FROM DARK, TO LIGHT
“We didn’t really know it would be a problem or not, now we know for sure,” says Goldsberry. The dispensary owner and longtime cannabis expert vows to reach out to other businesses and thought leaders, advocating to end the practice of carrying strains that infringe on trademarked names like ‘Girl Scout Cookie’ and ‘Gorilla Glue.’
In her defense, she says many people in the legal cannabis industry are from grow rooms, not business school.
“We are more sophisticated lately, and this is something people should’ve known, there’s no excuse, the industry needs better naming practices.”
“People should start right, and avoid mistakes that they know can happen,” Goldsberry says.