The word “Mendocino” on a cannabis product label may soon carry as much weight as the word “Napa” does on a bottle of wine.

In what is likely the first such endeavor in the country, Mendocino County is being divided into cannabis appellations, or specific regions, for the purpose of protection and promotion of the county’s cannabis.

“Appellations can be really powerful because they can be a means to protect everything from the intellectual property, to the labor force, to the culture and history. They can be very rich vehicles for promotion, protection, and rural development,” said wine legal expert Richard Mendelson.

For the last 30 years, Mendelson has been a key player in the creation of Napa County’s wine appellations, and has been sought after for advice by the group called the Mendocino Appellations Project.

The effort, which began last year, is buoyed by legislation passed in October that redefined cannabis cultivation as agriculture. Under the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, the Department of Food and Agriculture will create state licensing requirements and address environmental concerns. The act also makes it a crime for medical marijuana to be marketed, labeled, or sold as grown in a California county when it was not. The protective rules closely resemble those put in place to protect California’s wine regions, which is regulated at the federal level.

But, unlike wine, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. [Read More Here]

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