How an LA Weed Dispensary Pissed Off the Girl Scouts
It seemed like a win-win for everyone when a Girl Scout made a ton of money selling cookies outside of an LA dispensary, but then things got complicated due to the name of a popular strain.
You may remember the story of 13-year-old Girl Scout Danielle Lei, who last February, alongside her mother, set up a table outside San Francisco's Green Cross medical marijuana dispensary and started slanging Samoas and Thin Mints. In 45 minutes, she sold every last box she'd brought and had to re-up her supply. In two hours, she moved 117 units.
And what happened next—as they say in those cheesy clickbait Facebook posts—will blow your fucking mind, man. Namely, nothing happened. Even after the story hit the national media and launched a thousand memes, Girl Scouts of America just sat back and watched those cookie dollars roll in. Meaning we live in a country where 700,000 adults still get arrested every year for marijuana, but apparently a kid selling sugar-loaded confections outside a weed store raises few eyebrows.
"Girls are selling cookies, and they and their parents pick out places where they can make good sales," Dana Allen, director of marketing and communications for Girl Scouts of Northern California, told Mashable at the time. "The mom decided this was a place she was comfortable with her daughter being at [and] we're not telling people where they can and can't go if it's a legitimate business."
Now, as far as The Weed Eater's concerned, this would appear to be a win-win. Cookie-minded cannabis enthusiasts get delicious Tagalongs, Girl Scouts get funds for local good works, the scary corporate marketing machine behind the scenes gets its cut—everybody's happy. Particularly whoever just picked up an eighth of Lemon Skunk and a box of Do-si-dos.
But according to Aaron Justis, President and CEO of Buds & Roses dispensary in Los Angeles, the Girl Scouts don't play quite so nice when it comes to defending their intellectual property. Just a few weeks after Danielle's story made the rounds online, he received a letter from Girl Scouts of America asking him to cease and desist from selling a marijuana strain called Girl Scout Cookies that's currently the undisputed hottest variety on the California scene.
"It has come to our attention that you are using the GIRL SCOUT COOKIES trademark to market a strain of marijuana," the letter begins, then notes that "only GSUSA has the right to license, endorse, or sponsor a product bearing the GIRL SCOUT COOKIES name." The letter, signed by Brian Crawford, Chief Licensing Executive for Girl Scouts of America, further objects to use of the name in a way that implies the organization "endorses to acquiesces to the use of its registered mark in connection with illegal drugs."
Justis says he told nobody but his lawyer about the letter until this week, when he posted it online as a kind of lark. Also, he's not the breeder or grower of the strain, just one of many retailers offering it from a variety of cultivation sources.
"I was definitely nervous at first, as I'm not looking to get into a confrontation with the Girl Scouts of America," He says. "But that letter was the only communication I've ever received from them, so it seems like everything's okay. Anyway, I doubt how well they could do with any lawsuit, at least for now, because the market has been so grey and hard to pin down. But as the cannabis industry matures, and becomes big business, they'll actually have some targets to go after. So people shouldn't use anything for a new strain name that they can't personally trademark sometime down the road."
Which begs the question: Who's really behind the names of popular marijuana strains, anyway?
Just as with apples and oranges, turns out the breeder of a new variety of cannabis gets to name it. Theoretically this happens every time two distinct genetic lines are crossed, but in reality only a select few of such hybrids will ever be recognized as established purebreds. The rest are mutts.
Girl Scout Cookies, meanwhile, has emerged as an elite among elites.
But because so much marijuana breeding remains underground or in the shadows, and the US Patent and Trademark Office continues to refuse to offer copyright protection to strain names, the true lineage and provenance of even the best known and most beloved varieties on the market remain murky, and are often in dispute. Breeders who come up with a hot new strain will typically attempt to keep some control on supply, but rival growers invariably get ahold of seeds or clones of the plant and begin to flood the market—often with an inferior (or "watered down") version of the original, and occasionally claiming it as their own creation.
According to High Times Senior Cultivation Editor Danny Danko, the true, original Girl Scout Cookies strain is a cross of Durban Poison, OG Kush, and an as-yet-undisclosed third variety. The name reputedly refers to the buds tasting like Thin Mints when smoked or vaporized.
"It's sweeter than Kush, but just as potent, with a high that's both cerebral and felt in the body," Danko tells The Weed Eater. "A nice change from the Kush and Diesels that dominate the marketplace, it's now incredibly popular, though the real deal Girl Scout Cookies from [underground weed breeders] the Cookie Fam remains hard to find and super rare."
Justis figures that when the media kerfuffle about Girl Scouts and weed first kicked up last year, someone in the organization must have googled the two terms together and realized that their trademark was literally going up in smoke. After trying and failing to track down the elusive Cookie Fam, they discovered that Justis had won a Cannabis Cup with a Girl Scout Cookie strain entered through his dispensary, and decided to send him a cease-and-desist letter just to cover their asses.
"The letter doesn't actually say anything too scary," he notes. "Perhaps they're afraid to alienate millions of cannabis consumers, because after I got this letter, I clicked on the hashtag #girlscoutcookies and it was a lot of cannabis, and not a lot of cookies."
Justis has since changed the name of Buds and Roses premium version of the strain to Platinum Cookies.
Meanwhile, the Weed Eater, through personal experience, can confirm that a sleeve of Thin Mints and fresh rolled joint of Girl Scout Cookies does indeed makes an ideal pairing—particularly when washed down with a glass of milk and an episode or two of Rick and Morty.