Girl Scouts Will Sue Your Ass Over Girl Scout Cookie Strain Name

Whatever happened to forging mutually beneficial relationships?

Every year during the first week of February, every coworker parent of a daughter between ages five and 14 saunters around to your cubicle and discreetly drops an order sheet for boxes of sugary nonprofit confections on your desk. By Wednesday, your patience with this competitive biscuit peddling is about to snap.

Suddenly, a news story appears about a pair of enterprising Girl Scouts who have set up a table outside their local medical marijuana dispensary. The bold Brownies have sold 30 gross packages each of Tagalongs, Do-si-dos, Samoas, and Trefoils (along with more Thin Mints than helicopter mom can count) to MMJ patients as they exit the shop and head for highness.

That slow-day news story, of little girls in uniforms selling boxes of cookies to bumbling stoners, warms your heart and melts your resentment at being a captive target market in the annual Girl Scout Cookies fund drive. It was a story of a beautiful symbiotic relationship that restored your faith in workplace camaraderie.

Well, the Girl Scouts of America have fucked that all up.

On January 6, Oakland, California’s Magnolia Oakland medical marijuana dispensary received a cease and desist letter from Girl Scouts USA. The letter instructed the dispensary that using the Girl Scout Cookies name to brand marijuana products is a violation of trademark law.

In what its executive director, Debby Goldsberry, estimated as “within an hour’s time,” Magnolia Oakland wiped all Girl Scout branding from its shelves. Girl Scout Cookie pot materials that could not be renamed were returned to suppliers, along with a memo explaining that products labeled Girl Scout Cookies would no longer be accepted at Magnolia—unless, presumably, those products were actual Girl Scout Cookies.

Pioneering cultivators will take a hit if the names of their highly sought after strains are placed off limits.

Magnolia's Goldsberry, perhaps a little self-chastened at not having ceased and desisted appropriating the Girl Scout name sooner (“We knew it was coming”), has emerged from the experience as a spokesperson for trademark rights, and is employing Magnolia's resources to spread the message of trademark protectionism.

From Marijuana Times:

Currently, they are using social media to get the word out to fellow cannabis businesses. Magnolia will also use presentations and public speaking engagements to raise awareness.
“A lot of people think you can treat it like a parody,” said Goldsberry, “but it’s not funny—it’s a violation of a trademark.”
She said she was always uncomfortable with the name; so are others. That’s why you’ll sometimes see the name changed to ‘GSC’ or ‘Platinum Cookies.’

The Girl Scouts USA cease-and-desist letter raises the larger issue of popular, fancifully named marijuana strains that impinge upon the intellectual property of heavily lawyered mainstream entities. Dispensaries stocking Gorilla Glue, selling strain names referencing Star Trek and Star Wars, or pitching bud labeled to evoke sugary children’s cereal products may all be due to receive an attorney-crafted letter in the mail.

Image via VSCO

Goldsberry acknowledges that pioneering cultivators will take a hit if the names of their highly sought after strains are placed off limits. Clearly, the masterminds who developed the classic Girl Scout Cookies weed pedigree were unable to foresee a future when their singular product would be sold in brick-and-mortar, retail spaces subject to all the laws of regulated commerce.

There’s no excuse for that shortsightedness now. As Magnolia's Goldsberry  told the Marijuana Times: “People should start right, and avoid mistakes that they know can happen.”