Marijuana

Marijuana entrepreneur tries to trademark the word "ganja" with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

On April 1, the U.S. patent office announced a new trademark: "Processed plant matter for medicinal purposes, namely medical marijuana." The category was killed three months later when the Wall Street Journal asked about it, but in the meantime ganjapreneurs nationwide filed some very interesting pot trademarks -- with some of the most colorful coming from Colorado.

At least 20 of the 151 or so applications filed for the new trademark came from Colorado -- and there are likely more, filed by trademark lawyers and experts in other states working on behalf of Colorado entities. Some were from local dispensaries trying to protect their name, like the ReLeaf Center and Total Health Concepts. Others were for pot services such as Nug Source, an ad company. And then there were pot products, like "MountainMedibles," a line of pot-infused edibles purportedly ranging from bagel chips and egg rolls to instant noodles and matzo, as well as "Dr. Canna Cola," a name we assume speaks for itself.

And finally there's Meyer Keegan, an enterprising fellow from Colorado Springs. He took the new trademark category to mean he could claim ownership of such common strain names as Maui Waui, G-13, Bubblegum and Island Sweet Skunk -- as well as everything going by the term "ganja."

The application gold rush stopped short on July 19 when a patent-office spokesperson told the Journal that the new pot category was a mistake and would be removed. Now the classification has been struck from the agency's website -- but the trademark applications filed in the meantime haven't yet been rejected.

That means we may eventually see Dr. Canna Cola hit the market with a "TM" after its name -- and who knows, maybe no one will be able to use the word "ganja" in their business without the expressed permission of Mr. Keegan.

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner