California Cannabis Industry Strives For Geographic Branding, Just Like Wine

Cultivators are enthusiastic about a bill establishing the framework

California’s legal cannabis industry, not yet 4 years old, yearns for the same system of tying plants to the soil perfected by the French over centuries and a key to the marketing success of the state’s premium wine grape growers.

Tended for decades in legal darkness before voters ended the prohibition on cannabis in 2016, the intoxicating crop from Northern California in particular earned a global reputation for delivering euphoria as well as relief from various maladies.

Now, the burgeoning multibillion-dollar industry wants to stamp its products with geographic identifiers, just like France’s famed burgundies and Alexander Valley’s cabernet sauvignon.

The cornerstone of France’s appellation system is terroir — a word with no English equivalent but loosely translated as “sense of place” — based on the premise that soil, climate and topography endow grapes with unique characteristics.

Not everyone buys the concept of terroir, but winemakers and cannabis cultivators are united in translating it as “cha-ching.”

Cultivators are enthusiastic about a bill establishing the framework for California cannabis appellations as soon as this summer, cementing the system — the first of its kind in the world — in terroir.

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