What if the key to surviving the zombie apocalypse wasn’t better preparation, superior firepower or the perfect hideout? What if, instead, the secret to staying alive among hordes of ravenous, flesh-devouring undead was just some weed? That’s the idea at the heart of the “The Toking Dead,” a comic book series about two friends who come to the realization that cannabis is the only way to help humankind survive a zombie-strewn hell world. But the title of the comic, which riffs off of AMC’s hit televisions series “The Walking Dead,” has drawn some legal heat from the network. Like a zombie’s relentless pursuit of fresh brains, AMC has dogged the creators of “The Toking Dead” for over two years, claiming the comic violates copyright and filing suit against its trademark.
“The Toking Dead” Locked in Legal Dispute Over Trademark
It took just five seasons, after premiering in 2010, for AMC’s “The Walking Dead” to become the most watched show in cable television history. And while the show may not enjoy the 17.3 million viewers it once did, on its tenth season people are still watching it, even if they don’t think it’s that good anymore. But fans can still watch the older, better seasons on Netflix, where “The Walking Dead” is one of the most-watched shows on the streaming service.
Over its decade-long run, “The Walking Dead” has spawned no shortage of spin-offs and fanfics. On fanfiction.net, there are nearly 20,000 Walking Dead stories. And in addition to “Fear the Walking Dead,” AMC’s first spin-off in TWD’s universe, the network is working on another Walking Dead-related series for 2020. Clearly, the zombie drama is inspiring storytelling and remains a high-value title for AMC.
But amid all that output, there’s one creative spin-off inspired by “The Walking Dead” that AMC’s legal team isn’t too pleased with. Since 2017, network lawyers have been going after “The Toking Dead” comic book series trademark. AMC says the comic is infringing on its copyright, and the legal battle between the comic’s publishers and the television network continues.
What’s AMC’s Problem with Weed-Toking Zombies?
The legal battle between AMC and “The Toking Dead” began back in 2017, when its creators filed for a trademark. The trademark filing brought a cease and desist letter from AMC. But “The Toking Dead” didn’t back down. And in June 2018, Still Toking Enterprise’s Inc., published the comic in New York’s “The Daily Gazette.”
Now, with “The Toking Dead” growing its readership, AMC has decided to up the ante. This week, the network filed a legal action against the comic’s trademark. Coverage of the legal battle has assumed that AMC wants to distance one of its top titles from association with the weed-heavy zombie comic. So far, AMC hasn’t indicated its motivation for going after “The Toking Dead,” beyond the copyright claim.
But Norman Reedus, who plays one of “The Walking Dead’s” most popular characters, the motorcycle-riding, crossbow-wielding badass Daryl Dixon, has already embraced cannabis’ emerging health and wellness culture. Last year, Reedus held his second fundraising drive for children who use medical cannabis. After raising money for pediatric cancer patients with the CannaKids organization in early 2017, Reedus collected donations for another non-profit, Saving Sophie, that works with children and adult cancer and epilepsy patients who use medical cannabis.
Cannabis is becoming more and more mainstream, and that means it’s going to become more common in popular culture. And so far, “The Toking Dead” doesn’t seem at all phased from AMC’s legal actions. Whether the zombie weed comic can survive this next battle remains to be seen.