Oct 012010

I’m hardly the first one to observe that names like “Green Crack” and “Durban Poison” don’t go hand in hand with good medicine. If first impressions count, and they do, the medipot industry is a teenage boy who shows up on your doorstep in baggy jeans and a “Smoke Weed” T-shirt, hoping to share his “medicine” with your daughter. You can spout off all you want about medical cannabis and its many benefits, but all the good stuff tends to get drowned out because of the names we use.

Exhibit A: “God’s Pussy” was the colorful name given by its Del Norte County breeder to the High Times Medical Cannabis Cup winner in the sativa category. Colorful, fun, heretical, countercultural … whatever you think of the name itself, medicine is not the first thing that springs to mind. “God’s Pussy” was quickly renamed “Vortex,” which is less offensive but no more useful than its predecessor in defining the medical characteristics of the plant strain. (Warning: Vortex should not be used by storm chasers, wicked witches or people with inner-ear problems.)

It’s a little bit ironic, then, that three women headed up the panel discussion on plant names at the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo. Wine varietals, roses and dogs — yes, dogs — offer real-life examples of naming conventions that are both colorful and useful in identifying key genetic traits, the panelists suggest.

Disclaimer: The camera work sucks (my bad) and the concepts involved are fairly technical. This is still important … because what’s in a name? Nothing less than the future of medical cannabis as regulations, labeling and packaging continue to evolve.


Amanda Reiman of Berkeley Patients Group, right, kicks off a panel discussion on cannabis strains and nomenclature aptly titled “A rose by any other name.” She appeared with BPG’s Debby Goldsberry at the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo in San Francisco.


Amanda Reiman of Berkeley Patients Group discusses how names of medical cannabis strains vary widely, and how some growers compound the problem by passing one strain off as another. “The word ‘poison’ is about the exact opposite of the spectrum from ‘medicine,'” she points out.


Amanda Reiman of Berkeley Patients Group discusses how new strains of cannabis are being developed that focus less on potency and euphoric effects than on their efficacy in treating certain medical conditions.


Debby Goldsberry of Berkeley Patients Group discusses the Medical Cannabis Safety Council and how funding is needed to advance science, research and self-regulation.


Debby Goldsberry of Berkeley Patients Group discusses how “Jack the Ripper” clones don’t go over well during visits from public officials seeking information about medical marijuana. Packaging and labeling of cannabis products also have a long way to go, she says.


“Medical cannabis should be regulated by us,” not the government, says Debby Goldsberry of Berkeley Patients Group. “We’ll start with nomenclature.”

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