Cannabis News & Views-Mendocino Appellation Project

Jude Thilman speaks with Genine Coleman and Justin Calvino regarding the Mendocino Appellation Project

The Mendocino Appellations Project proposes eleven regional appellations for cannabis cultivation within Mendocino County. The Project establishes county branding in the cannabis industry. The proposed regions are mapped out; however, additional micro-regions will be included in the final appellation proposal.

MCRSA, California’s regulation of commercial cannabis for medical use, defines marijuana cultivation as an agricultural activity and SB 643 states:

(b) The bureau may establish appellations of origin for marijuana grown in California.

(c) It is unlawful for medical marijuana to be marketed, labeled, or sold as grown in a California county when the medical marijuana was not grown in that county.

(d) It is unlawful to use the name of a California county in the labeling, marketing, or packaging of medical marijuana products unless the product was grown in that county.

(Section 13, Article 6, 19332.5).

Genine Coleman
Justin Calvino

Importantly, under new state laws, only cannabis products grown in Mendocino can be labeled with the county name. In light of new laws, both recognizing cannabis as agricultural activity and protecting the use of geographical names as brands for cannabis businesses, the Cannabis Appellations Project is gaining traction and support in Mendocino County.

The Project is modeled after Napa wine appellations, which establish wine regions by designating smaller bioregions within a county or country (think Champagne and France) that are consistent in climate, soil type, elevation, and other characteristics that impact the crops grown there.  Switching gears to cannabis production, micro-regions and bioregions, within Mendocino County, are based on ecological characteristics of that area and other related considerations. Appellations are called American Viticultural Areas (AVA), and are designated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the United States Department of the Treasury. Although the California cannabis industry conundrum rears its ugly head and cannabis appellations will not be recognized and designated at a federal level by a federal agency, Mendocino County fully supports a program to preserve and highlight Mendocino cannabis and provide some protection against big corporations and outside companies from capitalizing on the names of the region and sub-regions.

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