Discussions Beginning Around Cannabis Taxonomy


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A post on LinkedIn found some traction among cannabis geneticists:

Cannabis strain names have long been an integral part of culture, conveying meaning for breeders and signaling properties or experience to consumers. But as legalization expands access, some argue names alone do not provide enough information for safe, enjoyable choices by all. Others see strict scientific classification as undermining relationship with this plant's complex history and place in communities. Therein lies a familiar tension: how to balance serving newcomers and preserving what came before.

In a recent LinkedIn discussion, cannabis professionals weighed in on this issue, sharing perspectives around creativity, responsibility and forging a shared path ahead.

Breeders. The Artists and their Strain names. "Wrinkled Balls" anyone? 🕶👊🏼😶‍🌫️

-- Daniel P. Weadock, Cannabis Genetics & Breeders Agent

Weadock celebrates breeders as artists and cannabis strain names as creative works conveying cultural meaning, though some may puzzle outside certain circles. But as replied Anna Schwabe, PhD:

Me too!! And I dislike the suggestion that cannabis should be identified by the chemotype. It ignores all the lineage and artistry (among other things) that went into the creation! 🌱💚

-- Anna Schwabe, PhD in Cannabis Genetics | Cannabis Research & Science | Cannabis Education

Schwabe argues strict scientific classification alone risks losing connection to human experiences shaping this plant and its diversity. However, as grower Matthew Gates countered, relying on names alone poses issues around verifying properties, especially as some are "based on traits that aren't really present."

I do like the culture tied up in names but the practical reality of renaming, naming that is based on traits that aren't really present like flavors/aroma, and names that are based on copyrighted IP makes me pretty cynical.

-- Matthew Gates, Integrated Pest Management | Zenthanol Consulting

Gates highlights the need for balance - preserving culture but enabling practical verification and organization. As consultant Kevin  L.B. suggested, the cannabis industry mirrors wine and beer, where creative naming conventions have long aimed to signal characteristics and experience while also reflecting human artistry over time.

You asked, “How do people come up with names for anything?” TRUE anecdotal story: Some years ago, a friend’s daughter was asked why she named the child ‘Camry.’ “Because that’s where she was conceived,” she replied. And on the IPA... it’s not hazy, but Jai Alai, by Cigar City Brewing, is, in my considered opinion, one very fine brew.

-- Kevin L.B., Registered Nurse / Healthcare Consultant

But as discussions evolve around issues of equity, health impacts, regulatory oversight and market forces, creative license alone no longer suffices as an organizing principle without substance - especially as larger audiences come to the table with stakes in outcomes.

As suggested by the Cannabis Framework project, the solution lies in open discussion and partnership. Preserving culture means understanding it fully - its beauty and its warts, joys and failings both - then forging discretionary paths ahead informed by diverse realities, not rigid reactions or theories alone.

Strict mandate or "free market" fix have limits; shared values and responsibility guide progress through building familiarity and balancing social interests with sustainability. Between openness and overreach lies care; beyond absolutes meet human lives in context. Therein dwells wisdom.

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