Fighting for ‘Women of Weed’

Ah Warner, Hemp Basics.

Ah Warner is tired of being ignored in her attempts to protect the intellectual property of a private social club she founded about six years ago.

The longtime cannabis businesswoman and activist alleges High Times is infringing on her trademark by hosting and promoting events under the Women of Weed name. She says she has issued three cease-and-desist letters to High Times following three of its “Women of Weed” events in the past 14 months and now feels she has no other recourse than to take the conflict public.

“How dare you use the intellectual property of pioneering cannabis women for your financial gain. How dare you sexualize us and use our mark for your purposes, all in the guise of celebrating women in the cannabis industry,” Warner wrote in an open letter addressed to High Times.

Warner founded Women of Weed, a private social club that now has 167 members, in May 2013 and has two federal trademarks for the brand, one of which covers “groups of women gathering for business, social or activist purposes in cannabis and hemp,” she says.

The trademarks are owned by Mother Earth’s Green Services LLC, Warner’s parent company that also holds her Cannabis Basics and Hemp Basics brands. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website, the first trademark was filed April 6, 2015.

“As a business owner, I did what I was supposed to do,” she says. “I protected my intellectual property. … We have reacted to every single trademark infringement that we know about over the past six years.”

Beyond the alleged trademark infringement, Warner takes umbrage at the sexually charged marketing of the High Times events — but says that’s not the primary issue at hand.

“I’m not in the belief that we are ever going to eradicate sex in the cannabis industry. Sex sells. We’re not different than any other industry. … What someone chooses to do with their own brand is their own choice. The consumer will decide whether or not to support those images. They’ll decide whether to buy those products. The problem here is that High Times is sexualizing a mark owned by women. It’s not their mark to do whatever the hell they want with. … We are a group of scientists and writers and extractors and growers. We’re serious businesswomen and activists and don’t appreciate the sexualization of our mark.”

Her hope is simple: “My goal is for them to stop using our mark, period,” she says. “They don’t own the mark.”

She concluded her open letter with a promise to remain vigilant: “I will not be quiet and let anyone with money steal what we have built, strategically protected and rightfully, legally own. … I am not surprised by the need to fight for my rights as a female cannabis activist and business owner, after all, the Equal Rights Amendment has still not been passed in this country,” she wrote. “I am, however, shocked, saddened, and disgusted that I have to fight an entity that I have admired and even respected for so many years.”

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