Gov. Newsom gives green light to cannabis appellations

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 67 into law this week, opening the door for cannabis cultivators growing their products in a certain region to market them as such.

The state statute requires the program drafted out of the California Department of Food and Agriculture to launch by Jan. 1, 2021.

The designations will mimic the wine industry’s American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs — as regulatory indicators of the geographic origin of the grown food and beverage crop, allowing wine makers to place that geo designation on their labels.

Up to this point, many cannabis growers have focused on the strain and THC content to market their crops — the equivalency of what a “varietal” and “alcohol percentage” are to wine.

So in keeping with wine, the Napa and Sonoma valleys are home to some of the best Cabernet Sauvignons in the world. Along the Russian River, temperamental but tasty Pinot Noirs soak in the cooler Pacific breezes.

Wine Country growers have the same thoughts in mind for weed.

“For premium craft cultivators, we believe it’s this sense of place that will drive the growth of the cannabis industry,” said Aaron Keefer, vice president of cannabis cultivation for Sonoma Hills Farm. The 37-acre farm is situated in the terroir-rich Petaluma Gap, one of 18 wine AVAs in California.

Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, championed the bill as his 2nd district represents the heart of marijuana growing and wine producing.

Before receiving the governor’s signature, the bill was amended in July to incorporate the Business and Professions Code.

See cannabis appellations

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