The Ultimate Medical Cannabis Resourse

Naming rights

It is apparent from smell how some strains got their names, but others, while quite obscure, usually have a story behind them.

How a cannabis strain receives its name is largely up to the grower. | Photo Alexa Ace

What do you get when you cross GSC (Girl Scout Cookies) with Gorilla Glue? 

It sounds like the start of a really lame dad joke, but the answer is Gorilla Cookies. That’s just one of a galaxy of colorful, funny and sometimes weird cannabis strain names patients who visit Oklahoma’s medical dispensaries encounter.

Strains get their names in ways sometimes only known to the person who invented them. Other times, the name comes from something about it that reminds the creator of something else. And in some instances, they get their names from their physical appearance and aroma.

“There’s an art to it,” Rooted Zen grower Brandon Phelps said. “It comes down to what the originators were inspired by. Sometimes like with Girl Scout Cookies, it’s the way the plant smelled, which reminded them of cookies.”

While some might sound silly or nonsensical, they have meaning.

“To the average person, the names might seem kind of made up or comical, but for cultivators and people in the industry, they often tell a story,” said Dave Dodson of Norman-based ALTVM.

Colorful names do stand out on shelves. Often, patients decide what they’re going to purchase because the name sounds cool.

“When people see something called Alaskan Thunder Fuck, they’ll probably want to try it out because of the name alone, even without knowing much about it,” Phelps said.

Phelps recently created Brodie in honor of the nickname former Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook gave himself. The way it smokes reminded Phelps of one of Oklahoma City’s most beloved sports legends.

“You have to sit down and think of what you want to achieve with the name,” Phelps said. “We wanted something that would connect with Oklahomans but at the same time have our own twist and style on it.”

So what’s the Brodie like? In Phelps’ eyes, it’s a lot like Westbrook’s frenetic style on the court.

“It’s a very heavy sativa,” he said. “You’re not going to get couch-locked with it.”

Sometimes it’s as simple as combining the names of older strains.

“They’ll get their names as homage to the parent strains,” Dodson said. “Chem Cookies is one example. It’s a cross between Girl Scout Cookies and Chemdog. Other times, it’s a direct result of the appearance, smell and bag appeal.” 

Dodson said an indica like GMO Cookies, also known as Garlic Cookies, is an example in which appearance drove the naming process.

“It’s weird-looking and super funky-smelling,” Dodson said. 

Brand appeal

Some strain names have more brand appeal than others, especially in an era when new strain combinations are coming onto the market frequently. Acapulco Gold was wildly popular in the 1970s and ’80s but has given way to more modern names.

Haze, a once popular strain 20 or 30 years ago, is hard to find in its original form. Robot Pharmer Gardens head grower Josh Wheat found some and grew it for customers at his Broken Bow-based dispensary.

“We had some veterans with [post -traumatic stress disorder] asking for Amnesia Haze,” Wheat said. “It’s not really out there anymore, but it’s something I wanted to do for the community, so I found some seeds and grew it.”

The names might seem kind of made up or comical, but for cultivators and people in the industry, they often tell a story.

—Dave Dodson

Wheat, who comes to Oklahoma from the Pacific Northwest, said he has his own favorites.

“I like Cookies and Cream and Wonka Bars,” he said.  Some other cool names are Hazmat OG. It’s a really foul-smelling material and something I look forward to growing.”

The letters OG are often attached to some strain names. Skywalker OG and OG Kush are a couple of examples. It’s not shorthand for original gangster.

“It stands for ocean-grown,” Wheat said. “Lava rock is a really good soil to grow. It produces smaller buds that have a really loud nose to them.”

Some strain names have taken on almost legendary status. Fruity Pebbles is one. Now referred to as FPOG because of a copyright issue with the cereal maker, the strain was a limited time offering from California-based Alien Genetics. FPOG is a mix of Green Ribbon, Grandaddy Purple and Tahoe Alien. It has a fruity flavor, which is where it gets its name.

“That’s a very hard strain to get your hands on,” Phelps said. “It had this cult popularity on the West Coast, but I haven’t seen a lot of people who grow it locally.”

Pop culture also plays a role in how strains get their names. Pineapple Express combines Trainwreck and Hawaiian, but it takes its name from the popular 2008 comedy.

“You can go back into the 1960s with Purple Haze and Jimi Hendrix,” Phelps said. “Wiz Khalifa has Khalifa Kush. There are strains that get their names through pop culture in movies, art and music.”

Some strain names are almost universal. Blue Dream, a sativa-dominant hybrid that originated on the West Coast, is found in many Oklahoma dispensaries. It’s a combination of Blueberry and Haze. It gets its name from its full-body relaxation effect and “cerebral invigoration,” according to Leafly.

But can patients be sure the same Blue Dream they purchased years ago in places like Colorado will smoke the same as Blue Dream grown and purchased here? Not necessarily. 

“It’s not as easy as taking seeds and throwing them into the ground and expecting it to grow in the exact same color and smell,” Phelps said. “Everything from nutrients and overall level of TLC given to the plant can influence how it turns out. Some strains can have the same name, but each grower might put something out there that differs a little bit.”

So how do patients decipher what the names mean and not just pick one that sounds cool? There’s an app for that. Leafly and Weedmaps explain strain origins. If more information is needed, a budtender can often provide it.

“That’s what they’re there for,” Wheat said. “We do get some requests from strains that people have seen on social media. We try to find out more about them, and if it’s a good fit for us, we may try to grow it. But there’s a lot of information out there, more than ever before, for people to learn about how their favorite strain got its name.” 

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