Pubdate: Fri, 03 Nov 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jacquie Miller
Page: A1


The name of the government agency that will sell pot to Ontario has
been revealed: the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corp. Doesn't exactly roll
off the tongue.

But neither does LCBO, the name of the provincial liquor monolith that
sells us whiskey and wine. That acronym is so well known in Ontario
that today no one bothers to spell it out.

Will the acronym for the new marijuana agency - OCRC - become just as
familiar? It has a certain slurry symmetry. It could lend itself to a
nickname. How about "Ock-Rock," suggests Trina Fraser, an Ottawa
lawyer who specializes in cannabis business law.

But don't memorize OCRC yet. That's the legal name of the agency, but
Attorney General Yasir Naqvi suggests something jazzier might be used
for the actual stores.

"There will be branding that we'll do," he told the Toronto Star
Wednesday after the province tabled cannabis legislation.

It's likely the stores - the province plans 150 of them by 2020 -
won't be known as Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation outlets, he
said. Consider that a challenge. After all, the province might need
some help. The last time an Ontario empire devoted to altered states
of consciousness was re-branded, your local "Brewer's Retail" shop was
transformed into "The Beer Store." That has a certain utilitarian
charm, but lacks panache.

Don't bet on "The Pot Shop," though. Too punchy and promotional.
Ontario - echoing the federal government - has emphasized that the
point of legalizing marijuana is to strictly control and regulate it,
not encourage its consumption.

There's an inherent contradiction, of course, in selling a substance
while telling people they really shouldn't use it.

And the promise of "branding" implies the province will cook up a more
appealing name. But probably not too appealing. Cannabis4all?
Definitely not. Cannabis Shop? Maybe. Another prediction: The word
"marijuana" will not be in evidence.

The term is falling out of favour because it conjures up decades of
reefer madness.

"Cannabis" is preferred by many business people and activists whose
goal is to end the "demonization" of the drug and push it into the
mainstream. "Cannabis" sounds neutral, serious. It doesn't carry
negative connotations.

It's a challenge to transform it into something catchy, though.
There's only so much you can do with "canna," although businesses have
tried, from "CannaGreen" and "CannaBotanix" (illegal pot shops in
Ottawa) to CanniMed, a legal medical marijuanagrower in

The name debate also provides an opportunity for commentary.

Jodie Emery, the activist who helped create the Cannabis Culture brand
and chain of illegal pot shops, said she's upset the Ontario
government will have a monopoly on sales. She has her own suggestion
for the real meaning behind the acronym OCRC: It stand for "Oppressing
& Criminalizing Rights & Cannabis," she tweeted. Or perhaps "Ontario
Corruption & Reefer Croneyism" or "Our Charter Rights Crumble."

Another detail that might help with the naming challenge: the shops
will also sell bongs, rolling papers and other pot

Of course, a store name is only one element of branding. That's a
point well made by Dave Bigioni, who recently left a job as chief
marketing officer for Molson Coors to join Canopy Growth, the huge
marijuana grower in Smiths Falls.

A brand is created by everything from the furniture to the atmosphere,
the products to the customer service, he notes.

After all, one of the most successful brands ever created goes by the
inexplicable name Apple.

The brand should reflect the objectives of the government, suggests 
Bigioni: providing safe, regulated, high-quality products; educating 
consumers about cannabis; and creating a "welcoming" store environment 
that will lure customers away from the illegal dispensaries and street 
dealers supplying them now.

And what name might help evoke all those things? He didn't have an
immediate suggestion.

But lots of other people did, starting with Bruce, the reliably clever
guy who sits next to me.

He started the ball rolling by suggesting a few names: Reef, Baked,
The Blunt Truth, The Smoke and Toke, the Headquarters.

Readers and Twitterers took it from there, suggested many more, from
the smart to the silly and back.

Join the discussion by commenting on this story, sending a tweet to
#namethatpotshop or send an email.

We'll forward the best to Attorney General Yasir Naqvi himself, who
may or may not look at them.
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MAP posted-by: Matt