How Do Cannabis Strains Get Their Names? 

Step foot in any local dispensary and you’ll find dozens of options for flower or pre-rolls, all with various strain names. We use these names to indicate the genetic background of the specific plant, which can help customers gauge the types of effects they may experience when smoking. With many creative strain names from Green Crack to Cheetah Piss lining dispensary shelves, curious consumers often ask, how do strains get their names? 

How Do Cannabis Strains Get Their Names? 

May 16, 2023

Behind the strain names

Many factors play into the naming of cannabis strains and enthusiasts can easily go down a long history rabbit hole reading up on the thousands of strains with interesting stories. We’ll let you do that in your own, stoned time. For now, we’ll give you an overview of how cannabis strains are named. 

If you or someone you know used to smoke weed before it was legal, you may remember an emphasis on certain strains, like Hindu Kush and Maui Wowie. These became iconic strains in the 20th century, with enthusiasts seeking them out for their effects and legacy in cannabis culture. As you may be able to guess from our examples, these strains were named after their geographic location. It was a common naming convention back in the day, and you can see it with many other strains like Acapulco Gold or Panama Red.

But as cannabis culture has shifted, so have the conventions used to name various strains. Growers enthusiastic about genetics have long been cultivating their own unique genetic blends in-house and naming their creations based on a variety of features. For example, some focus the names on the plant’s flavors, like many strains with blueberry, lemon, or strawberry in the name. Others zoom in on aroma, like the many strains with lavender, diesel, or even garlic in the name. 

Let’s not forget about strains named after historical figures or celebrities, either. The beloved Jack Herer strain is named after a famous cannabis activist named, you guessed it, Jack Herer. Herer founded and directed the activist group Help End Marijuana Prohibition and wrote the book “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.” He’s well-loved in the cannabis community, and it’s no surprise that this sativa-dominant strain is also well-loved among enthusiasts. 

And then there are other famous people-centric cannabis strains, from Obama Kush and Snoop Dogg OG to Gary Payton and Air Jordan OG.

Basically, it comes down to the origin story, features, and sometimes, just the personality of the cultivator naming the strain. 

Popular strains and their origins

We briefly covered how cannabis strains can get their names from a variety of factors such as aroma and flavor. Strains also frequently get their names simply as a result of combining parent genetics. For example, the beloved MAC (Miracle Alien Cookies) strain gets its name from combining Alien Cookies with Starfighter and Columbian, and Miracle Alien Cookies was the creative title cultivators landed on when naming the hybrid. 

To put it simply, strains can get their names from just about anywhere. It’s why it can be so fun to come across a new strain – you’ve got something to look up, learn about, and a little piece of interesting history you can think of each time you smoke it. 

Let’s look at some popular strains and examine how their names correlate:

  • Wedding Cake: This strain was named after its distinct vanilla frosting aroma that evokes a sense of celebration. Of course, the strength of the aroma is subjective and many consumers don’t report noticing at all when smoking. Still, the name remains, and it’s become a go-to indica hybrid strain for many. 
  • Blue Dream: This popular strain originated in California, with no particular breeder claiming to have first debuted the sativa-dominant hybrid. Blue Dream is a cross between DJ Short’s Blueberry and Super Silver Haze, and that’s where the blue comes from. 
  • GMO: This heavy-hitting indica-dominant strain is sure to relax the user if it doesn’t put them to bed first. It goes by GMO, standing for garlic, mushrooms, and onions. Since that doesn’t appeal to many users, GMO is the go-to slang for this strain, which boasts a powerful garlic and diesel-y flavor and aroma. 
  • Gelato: Named by Sherbinskis, a high-profile cannabis cultivator, the Gelato strain is named for its creamy, sweet, and fruity flavor. It’s a refreshing, stimulating smoke with an evenly-balanced sativa/indica profile making for a steady, pleasant high. 

Many strains are huge and well-known, giving cultivators a strong reason to keep them in rotation. You can come to our Bellingham pot shop, Spokane dispensary, or any other location and find the same strain from several brands, and each one will be different based on that specific cultivator’s source and protocols. 

While many companies grow plenty of top-selling, popular strains, several also create their own in-house genetics. This keeps it interesting, allowing enthusiasts to try new genetic combinations and potentially find a new favorite they can only find from that brand. 

For example, our friends at Lazy Bee Gardens make a solid Cherry Pie, which is a popular strain that can be found from several other brands. But they also make their own strains, too, like their sativa-dominant strain called Powderhound, which is made from mixing Jack Herer with a mystery strain. Powderhound is an uplifting, sought-after flower that can only be found if your local dispensary stocks Lazy Bee Garden products.

Need weed? Stop by Piece of Mind  

Now that you know more about how cannabis strains get their name, it’s time to go out there and smoke something new. You just might find the perfect strain for your favorite activities, like watching the sunset, taking a walk through nature, or even working out.  

Stop by our Bellingham pot shop, Spokane dispensary, or Pullman weed store today to get all of your weed needs in one place. Our friendly and knowledgeable budtenders are here to help you find just what you’re looking for. 

Piece of Mind Cannabis is a medical marijuana and recreational Cannabis dispensary with locations in North Spokane, South Spokane, Bellingham, and Pullman, Washington.

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