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Oregon Bans Grape Ape and Other Cartoony Strain Names

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The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), tasked with regulating the legal cannabis industry, announced on Sept. 23 its plan to start banning cannabis strain names that could appeal to children. While the agency has yet to finalize the rules, it did release a temporary list of forbidden strain names.

Under the new regulations, the recreational cannabis industry is barred from using any strain name that refers to cartoon characters, such as Grape Ape, Dr. Who, Smurf and Bruce Banner. The ban also includes a variety of Star Wars-themed strains like Death Star and Skywalker OG, as well as kidsy titles like Candyland, Bubblelicious and Cinderella.

Anthony Johnson, campaign manager for Initiative 91, which legalized marijuana in Oregon in 2014, tells Freedom Leaf: “On the one hand, it does amount to government overreach and overregulation. On the other hand, the OLCC is tasked with helping prevent minors’ access to cannabis, so they are under political and legal pressure to fulfill that obligation. With all the issues facing the cannabis industry and community, the ban on certain strain names is a relatively low priority and a worthwhile tradeoff to establish a legal market.”

The high-CBD strain Charlotte’s Web is also on the list, because the name is the title of a children’s book by E.B. White. Ironically, the strain was named after Charlotte Figi, a young epilepsy patient who gained national prominence after being featured in CNN’s 2013 marijuana documentary, Weed.

The rules will not affect medical marijuana patients in Oregon, who will still be able to purchase Charlotte’s Web as it is named. “The Oregon Health Authority [OHA] does not have a similar rule regarding strain names that may be attractive to minors,” Jonathan Modie, a spokesperson for the OHA, tells Freedom Leaf.

The OLCC will not finalize rules until later this year, and encourages cannabis license holders to submit strain names for “guidance on this ‘attractiveness to children’ standard.”

The OLCC has come under fire from the cannabis industry recently for its new testing regulations. Various marijuana business owners told The Oregonian that the new rules threaten their businesses. One business owner even halted production: “We followed all of their rules. If you follow their rules, you cannot succeed. I don’t think I’m going to make it out of this,” says Cameron Yee, who owns an edibles and extract company.

The state has collected more than $40 million in tax revenues since adult-use sales began last October.

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