marijuana as big tobacco
marijuana as big tobacco

Is the Cannabis Industry Using Tactics from Big Tobacco's Playbook?

Does the marijuana industry use tactics from the Big Tobacco Playbook?

Posted by:
Reginald Reefer on Monday Jul 6, 2020

Does the Cannabis Industry use tactics from Big Tobacco’s Playbook?

cannabis using big tobacco playbook

(Click here to read the original article)


A recent study entitled, “Assessment of Incorporation of Lessons From Tobacco Control in City and County Laws Regulating Legal Marijuana in California” analyzed data from California to see whether or not the “cannabis industry” was using the same tactics from Big Tobacco.


According to the study – evidence for targeting the youth include things like naming strains “Girl Scout Cookies”, not properly labeling the “dangers of marijuana”, among other things.


While I understand that the idea behind the study is to reduce potential risk to the youth – to claim that the “industry is purposely preying on kids” is a bit of a stretch. The reaction to strain names like “Girl Scout Cookies” within the study suggests that it was done from the perspective of treating cannabis “pathologically”, as opposed to how one would study the effects chocolate for example [who do target children with their marketing.]


It reminds of me a Grinspoon saying;


I began to study marijuana in 1967... I had not yet learned that there is something very special about illicit drugs. If they don't always make the drug user behave irrationally, they certainly cause many non-users to behave that way. – Dr. Lester Grinspoon


“They certainly cause many non-users to behave irrationally” is precisely what is happening to the strain names like Girl Scout Cookies, the need to label cannabis as dangerous or to seriously restrict it within the marketplace.


Girl Scout Cookies allegedly are the creation of “The Cookie Collective” and publically first hit the market in the 2010s. While it’s difficult to make claim to the origins of a strain in Pre-legalization, as of now, nobody has laid claim against the Cookie Collective – meaning, it’s probably theirs. And if it’s not – they have brand recognition so technically it’s theirs anyhow.


The point I’m making with this nugget of history is that the strain was created “Pre-Legalization”, meaning that marketing incentives was not on the mind of the creatives. Of course – branding is always kind within cannabis, and Whacky names have been assigned to these plants since the dawn of prohibition – but NOT for the same reason as Big Tobacco.


Why do weed have crazy strain names?


Alaskan Thunderfuck, Green Crack, Jack Herer, Blueberry Kush, Durban Poison, OG Kush, etc – all of these whacky cannabis strain names have absolutely nothing to do with being “appealing to kids”. In fact – the origins of naming strains go back to the 1960s and 1970s when cultivators would grow landraces from all over the world and plant them locally.


When these landraces – such as a strain from Durban South Africa or a strain from the Hindu Kush Mountains are cultivated – hippies essentially named them whatever they wanted to keep track of the genealogy of the strains.


Based on the results of cross breeding these landraces – names started forming. Overtime – as more breeders started growing their cannabis – combinations of different strains established a creative space to name new strains.


At times, cannabis names would have elements from their parent strains and at other times they would have nothing to do with it. There was no “centralized data bank” keeping tabs on the names of the strains – and so, within this anarchy many different strains like Girl Scout Cookies, Scooby Snacks, and so forth started forming.


Was this a ploy to target children or – do stoners tend to like the same things kids do?


Stoner’s like candy, ice cream and cartoons


The idea that infusing a brownie with cannabis is directly targeting kids is ludicrous. It’s essentially saying that adults can’t have cravings for sweets, chocolates or anything that a kid would like.


However – isn’t Rick and Morty one of the most popular TV shows in 2020 with a cult-like following of 30+ year olds? Isn’t the median age for video gamers 35-year old?


What these researchers fail to understand through their academic and “pathological lens” is that stoners and children have many overlapping interests. Perhaps that could be the focus of their next study?


Is cannabis following Tobacco’s playbook?


While there is something like “BIG MARIJUANA” – which essentially is “corporate marijuana” run by rich white dudes who – in some cases benefited from prohibition. These guys are not trying to market to kids per se; rather, they are trying to monopolize the market and keep smaller growers out of it.


They achieve this by having studies overreact to creative strain names that call for tighter regulation and making false claims about the dangers of cannabis.


Lawmakers can’t claim that “there’s a lack of scientific evidence” when it comes to legalizing, but “One study that’s been debunked in 2017 is sufficient to Implement stricter regulations”.


Now – using science to create a false sense of danger does seem like it would be out of the playbook of Big Tobacco – except, there is no evidence that these studies are being funded by cannabis. Rather – it shows us that the government is still trying to make it harder for cannabis to come to the marketplace – despite overwhelming support from the public.


I’m sure there are some companies that are using shady tactics – but to claim the entire industry is acting in malice to target children is a bit of a stretch.








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