When you are dining at a nice restaurant and the sommelier brings out a complimentary glass of Champagne, you know that you are about to drink something authentic – no “sparkling wine” attempting to pass as real Champagne. Soon, cannabis consumers will know that when they purchase their favorite strain of Humboldt Kush, that it was cultivated in that region.
Thanks to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (“CDFA”) CalCannabis Appellations Project (“CAP”), cannabis growing regions within California will soon have the ability to capitalize on such a distinction. An appellation is an identifying name, title or label that can be legally defined and protected. Most people relate the term to the wine industry, but CAP is poised to changed that.
The underlying principal behind CAP is that the unique qualities of a specific cannabis product are often attributable to the region where the plant was grown and in what manner. CAP’s goal is to create a statewide appellations verification system that will enable effective communication about a qualified and licensed cannabis cultivator’s crops (i.e. the strains, geographical locations, the standards, or practices used) through labeling, advertising, and other branding techniques. It will also stop unlawful cannabis cultivators from making false claims about where and how their product was grown, which in turn will protect the integrity and value of the appellation designation.
For decades, discerning cannabis consumers have been willing to pay premium prices for products allegedly grown in specific regions or with specific techniques. However, due to cannabis’ varying legality in different states and with the federal government, supply chains have been cloudy and consumers’ confidence in this type of branding has been weak. As a result, cultivators of distinct cannabis strains struggled to capture the full market potential of their products.
CAP is expected benefit both cannabis cultivators and consumers. It will allow small growers to capture the value that consumers place on specific or regional cannabis strains and products. Allowing for cannabis differentiation through an appellations system will prevent it from being treated as a commodity by consumers — which could result in a situation where interchangeable products and a single market price for cannabis exist, regardless of where or how it is grown. CAP aims to protect not only local economies and cannabis growing communities, but also consumers that make purchasing decisions based on the origin and growing methods of their favorite cannabis strains.