- Posted by Laura Croft, Esq
- On January 26, 2017
- branding, breaking, California, cannabis, Humboldt County Appellations, Micro-Regions, Product of Origins, regulations, Trade Mark
In 2016, Mendocino launched the Mendocino Appellation Project, which divided Mendocino into 11 specific micro-regions, based on differentiators, including ecological factors, such as watershed and microclimate, and Humboldt County is looking to follow suit in early 2017. Creating appellations and highlighting the unique strands and traits that come from the different appellations is a significant tool in the Cannabis industry because it can “protect everything from intellectual property, to the labor force, to culture and history. They can be very rich vehicles for promotion, protection and rural development,” explains legal wine expert Richard Mendelson in the Northbay Business Journal. It is also appealing to customers, who are able to experiment with different regional and micro-environments to learn how subtle changes in terroir, environmental conditions including soil and climate, impacts the product.
Mendocino Appellation Project founder, Justin Calvino, is taking his knowledge of the industry and regions, first starting with a topographical map and then learning about the diversity and particularities that are specific to each micro-region to create the functional appellation map. After digesting information and input from farmers, Calvino makes adjustments to the appellations map to reflect not only geographic features, but all important and relevant aspects of the land, cannabis, weather, and the history of the regions. The individuals spearheading the Appellation Project are committed to a truly holistic approach to properly designate the Cannabis micro-regions.
Calvino is now leading a group to develop Cannabis appellations statewide and Humboldt is next on the list. California Cannabis Voice Humboldt. Most Cannabis consumers across the country are familiar with Humboldt County, as part of Northern California’s Emerald Triangle, the largest Cannabis-producing region in the United States. Such notoriety has in turn supported the Humboldt Cannabis industry. Humboldt County growers will undoubtedly reap the same benefits from the creation of appellation zones for Cannabis. Appellations will certainly aid to quality control of Cannabis product. For the average consumer, Cannabis products in the competition market share somewhat similar qualities; however, Jeremy Daw of ForteFive Consulting explains that “if the state enforces regulations concerning regional and appellations, as with wine, it would create a way for growers to clearly signal the value-added nature of their product to consumers.”
Humboldt Ordinance No. 2559, relating to the regulation of medical Cannabis, already provides branding criteria in section 55.4.15, Humboldt Artisanal Branding, stating that Humboldt county shall develop a program for recognition and certification of commercial cannabis cultivators meeting standards to be established by the Agricultural Commissioner, including, but not limited to, the following criteria:
- Cultivation area of 3,000 sq. ft. or less.
- Operated by a County permit and state license holder who resides on the same parcel as the cultivation site.
- Grown exclusively with natural light
- Meets organic certification standards or the substantial equivalent
Additionally, on August 1, 2016, Humboldt County initiated the Humboldt Proof of Origin Pilot Program, which combines a secure Proof of Origin stamp with anti-counterfeiting measures and an information management and sharing platform to securely identify, track and trace medical cannabis products that originate in Humboldt County. The project seeks to protect the Humboldt Appellation to secure the economic future of the county and the integrity of county-produced medical cannabis products. The “proof of origin” program in conjunction with appellation designation, in the Humboldt region, will further protect Humboldt’s unique strands of Cannabis.
As part of the program to protect Humboldt’s hard-earned reputation, Humboldt-grown cannabis products will carry the below “proof of origin” sticker that includes a cannabis symbol, the county seal, and a QR code. Medical patients can download a smartphone app to scan the code and confirm a product’s authenticity. A medical Cannabis patient simply enters the alphanumeric code displayed on the product’s stamped label and clicks “verify,” to confirm the origin of the product.
Humboldt’s “proof of origin” program, artisanal branding criteria and the impending creation of Humboldt appellations will pave the way for robust intellectual property rights for Cannabis products in Humboldt County, providing an alternative for cultivators that have attempted to obtain trademark protection based solely on their location. Further developments with Humboldt appellation designations are on the horizon – stay tuned for updates.
We invite you to contact CannaBusinessLaw for expert assistance in compliance with cannabis licensing, permitting and the application process relating to commercial cannabis in California.