Small plot, outdoor California cannabis farmers are among those who stand to gain the most from the state’s new appellations law, under which marijuana growers can claim, protect and market the unique elements of the plant grown in their specific region.
Appellations are legally defined and protected geographical indications. Appellations laws are the reason that only sparkling wine that originates from the region of Champagne, France can be legally marketed and sold as “Champagne,” (with a few exceptions for some semi-generic names that were grandfathered in a few years ago).
Back to marijuana marketing: Establishing a strong, consistent reputation for the best quality, potency and flavor profiles will give smaller growers a leg up in the market. This is critical for several reasons, including the fact that a place-based brand (very similar to what we see with producers of wine) could help some above-board growers edge out the black market dealers. A region with a highly-rated brand association could parlay that into a niche tourism market, similar to what we see in Napa Valley (which also relies heavily on appellations to build their credibility and customer loyalty). This could prove especially fruitful if prohibition is lifted at the federal level. Continue reading