Following MedMen’s recent move to acquire Illinois-based Pharmacann, thus setting up the largest cannabis acquisition in US history, now the bright entrepreneurs at MedMen are attempting to trademark the word “cannabis” for use on T-shirts.
The application, apparently filed in early October with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), followed MedMen’s successful effort to trademark a marijuana leaf design for T-shirts in 2017, reported Marijuana Business Daily.
“The geometric leaf you see on our Website and other collaterals is trademarked so we are looking to extend the idea for the word ‘cannabis,’” MedMen spokesman Daniel Yi said in an email to Marijuana Business Daily.
Trademark specialist and attorney Frank Herrera is highly skeptical the idea will wash with USPTO.
Thankfully, it seems MedMen will not be able to gobble up the word as easily as they’ve gobbled up large swaths of the cannabis market.
MedMen now has a market presence in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia, and Michigan and its home base California where, along with Nevada and New York, it has 14 high-end stores.
“Simply attempting to register the word ‘cannabis’ alone and not stylized (with logos or a design, for example) for clothing will not work, in my opinion,” Herrera said.
He predicted the government would reject the application because there are so many uses for the term cannabis.
Herrera told Marijuana Business Daily that this was not the first time someone has tried to scoop up the word “cannabis” for their own purposes. He found attempts dating to 1996.
The Word on the Word
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest usages of the word cannabis, meaning the "common hemp, Cannabis sativa," was in 1548 when it was described as parts of the plant "smoked, chewed, or drunk for their intoxicating or hallucinogenic properties."
Going back even further, the Greek historian Herodotus (c. 440 BCE) recorded the use of cannabis in The Histories. “The Scythians, as I said, take some of this hemp-seed and, creeping under the felt coverings, throw it upon the red-hot stones; immediately it smokes, and gives out such a vapor as no Grecian vapor-bath can exceed; the Scyths, delighted, shout for joy.”
That sounds about right, Herodotus.