One of California’s new medical marijuana laws will allow the botanical drug to be marketed like wine beginning Jan. 1.
Landmark legislation bringing overdue order to a muddled market establishes the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, which will have the authority to establish wine-style geographic pedigrees for pot and make Humboldt Hash and Santa Cruz Sinsemilla as legitimate as Napa Valley Viognier and Paso Robles Pinot Noir.
(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.
— from SB 643, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, Oct. 9, 2015
Never mind that the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, authorized by AB 266 , does not yet exist or whether the political will exists at all to pedigree pot like wine any time soon.
The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau oversees 130 appellations of origin — also known as American Viticultural Areas, based on proven climate and soil characteristics — for wines produced from grapes grown in California.
Here, at the height of California’s sun-grown, roots-in-dirt cannabis harvest season, are five proposed California Cannacultural Areas (CCAs) and some sub-appellations for the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation to consider at its earliest future convenience:
- Emerald Triangle. In wine terms, this is the Napa Valley-Loire Valley-Rhone Valley of Pot — the ready-for-branding birthplace of California’s most lucrative cash crop and a high-value tourist attraction. The counties that comprise the Emerald Triangle — Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity — are as well-known as Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and the third world-famous opera tenor, and each should each have its own sub-CCA. Of course, Humboldt’s Willow Creek will want its own CCA because it has its own wine AVA. Get ready for Garberville and SoHum CCAs. How about straight-outta-Mendocino CCAs Covelo and Area 101?
- North Coast. Napa and Sonoma County pot puns — Napa Napot, Petaluma Potaluma, Sonoma Mota, Bodega Bud — practically write themselves. There’s nothing funny about the fires that ravaged would-be Lake County CCAs this summer. I include northwesternmost Del Norte County here because, in all seriousness, a fourth county would change the Emerald Triangle’s shape, and Emerald Rectangle sounds perverted from all ends.
- Central Coast. There definitely should be an Oaksterdam appellation. San Francisco’s real estate prices are so far through the roof that only the most dope-addled landlords would settle for less money renting to pot growers versus gouging handsomely-paid tech workers who insist on living in the city at apparently any cost. But hash-oil refining and edibles kitchens? That’s where San Francisco CCA values are. The other attractive CCA branding hookups: Big Sur Sativa, Bolinas Bhang Bar, Bonney Doon Doobies, Carmel Chronic. Silicon Valley’s CCA will be riddled by bug jokes. A friend with West Marin Weed is a friend indeed.
- Central Valley. Officially wanting to be known as the Farm to Fork Capital of America, Sacramento has an unofficial motto: Brand It and They Will Come. Somewhere in the valley capital, marketers are envisioning next year’s Sacramento Appellation Farm to Vape Festival. Expect food trucks and a beer garden. #SacAppFarm2Vape2016. Yolo earns its appellation for the contributions to agriculture and plant science made by UC Davis. You think it’s by fluke that THC percentages of top-shelf California pot test in the mid-20s? In the southern part of this appellation, King County would be the king of cannabis if local laws allowed cultivation. Same goes in neighboring ag-rich regions Fresno and Bakersfield. The U.S. ATTTB includes the Sierra Foothills within its Central Valley appellation. So, welcome, Grass Valley and Placerville CCAs. How about Gold Country’s Shenandoah Valley? In 1976, that AVA’s grapes upstaged French vintages in international competition. Is 2016 the time when California Shenandoah Valley CCA plants Amador County on the marijuana map?
- Shasta-Siskyou. The rugged region is home to Weed, the best-named city in America until the founding of Pot, Colo., happens.