- Posted by Laura Croft, Esq
- On December 12, 2016
- branding, California, cannabis, commercial cultivation, licensing, marijuana, MCRSA, Mendocino County regulations cannabis appellations project, protection of cannabis
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.
(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).
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.
Richard Mendelson, a local expert in wine appellations, who is now helping with the Mendocino Cannabis Appellations Project, summed up the far-reaching benefits of the Project and told the North Bay Business Journal:
“Appellations can be really powerful because they can be a means to protect everything from the intellectual property, to the labor force, to the culture and history. They can be very rich vehicles for promotion, protection, and rural development.”
MCRSA is paving the way for robust intellectual property rights for medical marijuana products in California, providing an alternative for cultivators that have attempted to obtain trademark protection based on their locale.
It is not far-fetched that in the near future, the zealous protection and advocacy of renowned regional wine will apply to California regional cannabis.
The group leading the Mendocino Cannabis Appellations project is continuing to collect surveys and invite participants to help map out the proposed regions before submitting them for state approval. Mendocino is well on its way to establishing the framework for producers in the region to leverage the reputation and culture of Mendocino and draw attention to the unique variations of its micro-regions. No doubt other counties will quickly follow suit.
We invite you to contact CannaBusinessLaw for