Article by Phillip Smith, AlterNet
Pot farmers in one of California’s Emerald Triangle marijuana-growing counties are about to follow their brethren in the wine industry by seeking to capitalize on its reputation as a pioneer and still cutting-edge presence in American cannabis cultivation. As with Bordeaux in France or the Napa Valley nearby, the Mendocino Appellations Project wants the county’s marijuana brand protected and promoted by designating denominations of origin that reflect both the county provenance and the distinct pot-growing microclimates Mendo offers.
The first-of-its-kind project is riding a tide of local optimism not only about the future—legalization is set to be on the ballot in California this year—but also the present, now that the state legislature has belatedly passed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA). Twenty years after voters first approved medical marijuana, the act will finally bring some clarity to an endeavor that has operated with many grey areas. It defines marijuana cultivation as an agricultural activity, creates state licensing requirements, and also makes it a crime to label or sell medical marijuana as grown in a county if it actually isn’t.
These rules are similar to the ones that protect the state’s wine regions, whose global reputations for fine wines are zealously guarded. But unlike wine, which is regulated by the federal government, California’s pot’s regulation defaults to the state under federal marijuana prohibition.