A new cannabis regulation in California takes a tip from France, where the use of appellation labels protects the integrity of products such as champagne and roquefort cheese.

Appellation ensures that, for instance, products labeled “champagne” must have been produced in the Champagne region of France. The use of such labels for cannabis should similarly ensure that a certain strain — like Mendo Purps, which originated in Mendocino, California — was grown in a certain region.

Appellation comes from the concept of “terroir” — the notion that the geographical location of a plant’s production plays an important role in the final product. “There are obvious differences between, say, a Super Silver Haze that is cultivated at 700 feet elevation and a Super Silver Haze that is cultivated at a 2,200 feet elevation in Humboldt County,” says cannabis activist and former grower Kristin Nevedal.

Some say that the use of appellation may be the best way to protect independent growers from ‘Big Marijuana.’

Dale Sky Jones, the chancellor of Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California, says that “this is how small businesses compete with big marijuana… Appellation is going to wind up being the first line of defense.”

For Hezekiah Allen, director of the California Growers Association, appellation is “a means to protect California’s unique heritage and leadership within this industry.”

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