Your Marijuana Strain Name Sucks

Patient: Doctor, I’ve been on every epileptic medication on the market but still have seizures. What can be done to help me?

Doctor: Let’s get you on some Durban Poison right away, I’ll write the script and you can –

Patient [interrupts]: Poison? That doesn’t sound good.

Doctor: It’s not really poison, it’s just called that. Durban Poison; it’s a variety of cannabis.

Patient: Oh. Why is it called poison? Because cannabis is dangerous?

Doctor: I’m not sure why it’s called that and no, cannabis is completely harmless but offers substantial benefits.

Patient: Then why call it poison?

Doctor: Okay, I see your point; no legitimate medicine should be referred to as poison. How about instead we get you on a regular course of Amnesia Haze, which is a sativa variety like Durban Poison?

Patient: Hmm, Amnesia Haze doesn’t sound too promising either; will I become forgetful and feel “hazy?” Are those the side effects of Amnesia Haze?

Doctor [chuckling]: Well, I suppose that is why they named it that…but Amnesia Haze is also dried cannabis flowers; it’s harmless…

Patient: That’s confusing. Durban Poison doesn’t have any poison in it, even though the word is in the name, yet Amnesia Haze accurately describes the effects. That doesn’t sound like medicine to me.

Doctor: You’re right; legitimate medicine should not be named after undesirable side effects. I think the best thing to do is to get you on some cannabis that doesn’t have poison or negative side effects in the name. How about some Alaskan Thunderfuck?

Patient: Goodbye, Dr. Dumbfuck.

Do I really need to write more than the preceding dialogue to point out how preposterous this naming system is? Isn’t it clear that the current taxonomy for cannabis is not at all medically-oriented? This is troubling because much of the marijuana legalization movement – especially in the United States – has been buoyed by the argument that cannabis is medicine and should be treated as such. Apparently, this medical treatment is one-sided, as there is no shortage of stupid and contradictory names for cannabis strains that purportedly (and often do) have legitimate medical value.

For instance, how about we prescribe some Green Crack to a recovering opiate addict? Or perhaps we should treat military veterans suffering from PTSD with the AK-47 strain?

Here’s a good match; let’s treat anxiety with Trainwreck. Or Schizophrenia with MK-Ultra; named for the infamous government mind control program. Let’s treat arthritis with Zombie Kush or let’s get comical and treat wasting syndrome from AIDS with Girl Scout Cookies. Let’s treat travel anxiety with Ghost Train Haze, an alcoholic with Moonshine, or Trump’s immigration insanity with Mexican Haze.

Does any of this sound like medicine to you?

Do we as cannabis activists really expect the medical community to embrace us and our cause when we continually name our medicine with juvenile stoner names? If we want to be taken seriously – especially by people who have no direct experience with cannabis – then we must address taxonomy, branding, marketing and other public image issues accordingly.

In All Fairness

To be fair, many of the marijuana strain names that we are dealing with today were named long ago by black market forces with a penchant for irony, resistance to authority and the establishment and of course, necessary juvenile-style criminal behavior. However, to be equally fair, there is no shortage of stupid strain names that have been coined since the explosion of the legalization movements, which have been propelled by the medical use argument.


As always, I’m not going to sit here and bitch without offering a solution. Here’s my suggestion for cannabis strain taxonomy/labeling:

  • Any person or company who brands or otherwise sells cannabis flower will be required to submit samples of the dried flower to an approved laboratory for gas chromatographic analysis, or a to an approved lab using similar or better technology (assuming current technology improves). This means that if Seller A acquires cannabis from Supplier Z, Seller A must send the product to the lab independently in order to white-label or sell the cannabis from Supplier Z, even if Supplier Z has already tested and provided laboratory results. Essentially the rule here will be if you want your name or label on the product, YOU test the weed.
  • Packaging and labels must prominently feature the chemical analysis of the cannabis flower in question using the following or similar methods, with Maggie’s Farm in Colorado as an example. In this case, the following is written on a medical vial of cannabis:
This is an example of how cannabis labeling could work.

Right now that label looks like at least partial nonsense to a layman, but with proper education the public will quickly recognize it for what it is, line by line:

a. Name of cannabis producer or end-supplier; in this case Maggie’s Farm
b. Sativa with a terpene profile of 56% Limonene, 25% Pinene and 4% Myrcene. This type of code uses the top 3 terpenes found in the laboratory analysis.
c. 15% THC and 2.5% CBD content
d. Produced from a 2017 crop

Here’s another example:

Bulldog Amsterdam
Sativa Hybrid, P45L26LO12

I am certain that many people working in the cannabis industries can not only quickly guess what this labeling means, but they can also make a good guess about what particular “strain” it might be. In this case the seller is Bulldog in Amsterdam; the product is a sativa hybrid consisting of 45% Pinene, 26% Limonene and 12% Linalool. Take a guess at what you think the strain might be in the comments section below.

More importantly, a properly educated consumer will be able to use this method of labeling to select the cannabis that is right for them, instead of selecting cannabis from a seller that may or may not know the true strain type. Think about it; how often do you purchase an unidentified strain, or a strain that you suspect is not the strain advertised? It happens to me all the time and many of the caregivers, dispensaries and cannabis clubs that I work with are dismayed at the unreliability of purported strains.

Education can be as simple as a small label on the reverse of the product; a basic chart showing the terpenes with an unpretentious explanation should suffice for most people. A link to a web page with more detailed educational materials can be provided on the reverse of the label.

This type of classification system will rewrite the cannabis vernacular so that instead of people asking for cannabis with names like Green Crack, we’ll begin to hear people asking;

Got any of that sweet L75?


I’m looking for a P40 or higher, do you have anything like that?

Where the first question here refers to any cannabis flower with a primary terpene of Limonene at 75%, and the second question referring to a strain with a primary terpene of Pinene at 40% or more. Or perhaps we’ll see terms posted with accompanying images to Facebook like this:

Check out this crazy PL Split; it’s fire!

In this case, PL Split means a strain where the primary terpene profile is Pinene and Limonene at an equal rate higher than, say, 35%.

Final Word

Obviously, this solution will take significant effort to pull off. We need more access to laboratories and other facilities that can analyze terpenes and cannabinoids. We need cannabis to enter mainstream public education and to be treated like any other plant; this includes rewriting the history of humans and cannabis, which at present is either non-existent or is packaged as old, cold and bold lies. We need the negative rhetoric and decades-old myths and propaganda about cannabis to be retracted and rewritten. We need more medical research and acceptance of cannabis into everyday medical practice. But we’re not going to accomplish any of this if we keep naming our products like dimwitted stereotypical stoners. For fuck’s sake people; how do you explain to your child that the medicine you are giving them is called Durban Poison? What kind of message is that sending?

I’m interested in hearing your ideas for a cannabis naming and labeling system that doesn’t rely on fuckboys growing random seeds in their mother’s basement and subsequently crapping out names like Satan’s Dick and Super Couchlock. (If those are cannabis “strain” names already, that was unintentional but I won’t apologize as those are fucking stupid names.)

It’s time for us to grow up, kiddos. Cannabis is science. Cannabis is medicine. Let’s conduct ourselves accordingly.

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After 29 years I'm calling the cannabis industry out on its crap.

15 thoughts on “Your Marijuana Strain Name Sucks”

  1. Home growers with clinically tested buds. Sold in a flea market environment. Then you’ll be speaking to the growers and not some uneducated bud tenders at a dispensary. Each strain would have a current data sheet present at time of sale. Senior centers could be rented for the weekend for a few hundred dollars. Security at the door checking ID’s. The State collects taxes on the spot. My customers could name the strains whatever they want. I call it good business. When homeowners do all the work. You’re integrity, character and product are judged in front of you. There is no hiding behind hype or ignorance.
    Peace. MedDakotabis

  2. As a former CO budtender, you are so right! In lieu of the type of system you advocate for, which I fully support, consumers can use their nose as a guide in the meantime. If a strain sits well with you, notate the smell for future strain exploration. I personally love strains high in linalool for the relaxing characteristics. Obviously this is not a full proof method, but more useful than sticking to a strain name. On a slightly unrelated note, how do you feel about terpene preservation in various hash extractions? I saw on another post you tend to stick to isolator hash as BHO often has the terpene profile stripped away. But how do you feel about live resin extracts, (relatively newer) high cannabinoid/high terpene full spectrum extracts, or my personal favorite, Rosin?

    1. Hola Ben; thanks for your comments. Honestly, Rosin, live resin, BHO, wax, shatter, tincture, distillate, etc. really don’t work for me, or my wife for that matter. In most cases, I don’t really get high from these products, and when I do, it’s not a high that makes me feel satisfied. I still feel like I need…more somehow.

  3. I like the idea of bringing more science to the cannabis industry and thing terpenes, flavonoids, and terpinoids are where its at for sure. I think the problem here is that solely using the terp profile to identifiy a strain is doomed to failure. LIke the recreational consumer said, its an emotional choice for him.

    Also, one harvest grown in a Hyrdo set up using GH with traditional HID’s will not have as complex a terp profile as soil organics with quality LED’s as still different from outdoor harvests. And then, there are subtle differences coming from environmental changes that may impact all such as Extra hot &/or wet/dry seasons, radio active clouds, migrating pesticides from other farms, or chem trails that are exacerbated by the technique.

    Weed harvests are like wine, different all the time and curing or aging the product changes it dynamically, especially with regard to the terps.

  4. One part of the naming system also teaches you which was the female and which was the male in a cross. For example say a UK Cheese crossed with a White Widow would be named so that the first name is of the mother and the second part of the name is the father so “Cheese Widow” means the Cheese plant was the female and the Widow plant was the male. However, “Widow Cheese” would mean the Widow was the female in the cross.

    I always thought this was somewhat helpful in knowing partial lineage of strains. I’ve been a breeder of rare strains for several years so this labeling system is of interest to me.

    Im sure you have heard of the cannabis genetic galaxy at http://galaxy.phylosbioscience.com/ but it still relies on some pretty strange names. Love this blog, we sounds so much alike in personality and the path our lives have gone down.

    1. Thanks Jesse, and sorry for the long delay in my reply; the blog got spammed out, unfortunately, and I had to find time to hand-sort through thousands of illicit comments. Yes, I think that identifying which male and which female was used is a good idea, although in the end I’m not sure exactly what significance it will have. But overall, I’d really like to see the industry get away from traditional strain names, and come up with something more scientific. But for the sake of argument, how will knowing which of the most recent breeding was male and which was female will help the user? I’m curious, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but in the grand scheme of a thorough pedigree, it makes sense.

  5. I think you americans live on a complete paranoia, this labeling system is really boring, and I dont like it. Do you think you’re so cool cause you talk about terpenes? Your labeling system sucks. I use cannabis for recreational purposes, but in my opinion you have to be idiot if you think that the name of Durban Poison means that there is poison on the weed…but ok if this is your standard of the consumer inteligence…

    1. Actually yes, I do think it’s cool to talk about terpenes, and, you know, to be educated about the things I discuss. The only boring, idiotic thing here is your comment, but I still hope you have a great day, Javier!

  6. Makes a lot of sense, I like the idea.

    I think it is terrible as a mnemonic device, though. Would you object to having, in addition to the above, the traditional name? Perhaps regulated to be small, and neutered inside quotation marks?

    1. Hi Tyson; I wouldn’t object to it and I know there are many older guys like myself that will always call certain strains by their original names, even if those names fade as a result of a new taxonomy. For instance, to me, Amnesia will always be amnesia. But when my daughter grows up, she might not know the same strain by that name, except through daddy. We’ll see what the industry does, in the meantime continuing to name cannabis strains with horrid labels like Dog Shit has got to stop. 😉

        1. Oh shit, sorry mate, I forgot about that. I think there is too much Pinene in that label to be SSH or Amnesia, probably something more along the lines of NY Diesel. I just made it up so it’s not real, but based on the terp profile, this is what I’d guess.

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