A BRAND WITH ROOTS
Part 2 of California Under The Sunrise Provision
This is part two of a three part series about California Under the Sunrise Provision. To read part one about Prop. 64 here
The American cannabis industry is changing. Some states have passed medicinal models, some are stalled at advocacy, and a handful of recreational states are advancing swiftly into craft cultures that rival coffee, wine or food industries. However, no matter where individual states are at, the community responsible for cannabis cultivation in America, the legacy community, is still strongly rooted. To extend the life of these legacy roots even further, forward-thinking measures like Prop. 64s sunrise provision need to be paired with the successful tools of similar industries, drawing the lines of distinction in the product through the use of specialty branding of appellation and terroir.
To understand how important a distinction can be on a product, just look at the difference in the Cannabis Genus family such as the sativa, indica and ruderalis. Besides the more obvious differences between the strains, such as higher THC or CBD levels, there are possibilities that the original taxonomy might be incorrect, further proving that distinctions definitely have value, sometimes harmful or sometimes in very beneficial ways. When the beneficial distinctions of cannabis can be shown through the specific agricultural growing area, as well as the way a grower or business produces that product, specialty marketing is an immediate value to the consumer and ultimately one of the key roots to growing the brand’s success.
Case in point, many of the new grower-entrepreneurs who have never cultivated an agricultural crop before can have little to no understanding of the qualities that benchmark the product’s characteristics. As a consumer, this lack of awareness raises concerns about the environment and methods by which the cannabis is grown or produced, ultimately leading to question the caliber of the product.
Understanding and marketing towards these levels of distinction are an expanding need in the craft cannabis space since this level of knowledge is currently being gained by the consumer in various ways. From the specialized education of cannabis sommelier courses to the expanded forums and professional publications found online, the consumer now wants to know more, and buy the distinctions that equal quality. Legacy businesses can establish their product’s levels of distinction by building their specialty marketing around other successful industry models, such as appellations and terroir.
The idea of a physical territory that has a particular environmental factor and farming practice affecting a crop’s phenotype, are said to have a characteristic called a terroir (pronounced “tear-wahr”). Terroir has been an established concept used by civilizations dating all the way back to the ancient Greeks who would stamp amphorae with the seal of the region they came from. Over the centuries, French winemakers finely-tuned the concept of terroir by observing the differences in wines from different regions or vineyards and Benedictine monks who cultivated grapes through large-scale observations even went so far as to taste the different soils to be able to mark the absolute distinctions of the terroir down to the soil quality. The same way that the many variations of grapes can grow all over the world, the cannabis plant has even more strains that can thrive in vastly different terroir. From the tropical rains of South America to the salty coasts of Oregon or even to those growing cannabis outdoors in the redwood forests of northern California, different strains become well adapted to the regions they are cultivated in and end up expressing their essence directly from their terroir, a concept similarly known within the cannabis community as a landrace.
These levels of distinction in cannabis are being cultivated right now by the Cannabis Appellations Project out of Mendocino, California. A collective of growers modeling the long history of successful wine makers, in wine regions like Napa Valley and Sonoma, by branding their appellations based on terroir.
Since California is already known for being industry leaders in wine appellations, it will not come as a surprise that multiple industries within the state and all over the country from cheese to tobacco, tea to agave, have already established the specialty branding of their terroir, thus allowing the legacy community an immediate roadmap and foundation for which to build a brand from, both in California and in any states with medicinal or recreational cannabis models.
Once a terroir is known or able to be recognized, an appellation is the legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify that product. The concept and distinction of appellations has existed for thousands of years and are even referenced in historical and biblical texts.
“The cannabis legacy and small business community are in a ‘sweet-spot’ for cultivating a specialty branding distinction right now”
In America, appellations are called viticultural areas (AVA) and are designated by geographic features, with boundaries defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the United States Department of the Treasury. The way an appellation is officially recognized by the TTB is a process of establishing distinctions.
This is achieved by providing the TTB with the following: evidence that the name of the proposed new AVA is locally or nationally known as referring to the area, historical or current evidence that the boundaries are legitimate, and evidence that growing conditions such as climate, soil, elevation, and physical features are distinctive. The cannabis legacy and small business community are in a “sweet-spot” for cultivating a specialty branding distinction right now because the appellations and terroir are already recognized in almost all states by the AVA, but mostly because cannabis is not officially recognized on a federal level. That means that there are no official guidelines for cannabis appellation, a noteworthy position for sure, and one in which the other viticultural industries must prove their brand distinctions before they can place any branding on their labels. This places the cannabis legacy and small business community ahead in specialty branding if done right now. Something the drafters of Prop. 64 knew and called out within the sunrise provision.
Just as with cannabis itself, the environment a brand grows in, and the way in which the grower or small business produces the product, all affect the distinctions that will be harvested for the consumer and the legacy business to enjoy.
The state of California addressed the need to keep the legacy businesses ahead of the monopolies for the first five years under the Prop. 64 sunrise provision, further establishing the roots of the legacy community, something that other states have unfortunately left behind. While some communities have already been shaded by big business, California has laid the groundwork to support specialty distinction and branding, known tools that can invigorate the roots nationwide that built this industry. The cannabis industry might be changing, but the time to keep the legacy roots strong for generations to come is now. CannaVerse knows the landscape of the landraces, and the territory of the cannabis terroir, let us help you brand the successful resources that already exist and keep your brand’s roots thriving wherever they may be planted.
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