In September, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law four bills affecting the state’s cannabis industry. One of those bills, dubbed Senate Bill 67, allows outdoor cannabis growers to brand and market their products by highlighting where and how those products are produced. As long as the cannabis products come from cannabis plants cultivated in the ground, or were grown without the use of a structure and without the use of artificial lighting in the canopy area, they can claim an “appellation of origin.”
This means that if cannabis farmers in California grow cannabis in the ground without any artificial light or shelter, they will be allowed to brand and market their products as coming from a specific region, similar to wineries in Napa and Sonoma. This will go a long way in helping small growers distinguish their crops. “Having the ability to show people the fingerprints of the place is helpful for us,” says Drew Barber, owner of East Mill Creek Farms in Humboldt County.
Such sellers are hoping that customers will be willing to pay a little extra for craft-grown marijuana produced organically in the state. Barber, for instance, is quite proud of the smaller carbon footprint his cannabis operation leaves. He grows his crops in the sun with no additional structures, and uses compost from the sheep and cattle on the farm to fertilize the soil. “We think it’s really important for people to experience the cannabis we grow out in that nature,” he says.
His farm, East Mills Creek, is a 10,000-square-foot grow that lies in a remote valley along the Pacific Coast. Situated on the edge of the marine layer, the farm gets windy in the summer. Barber says the wind causes secondary lant compounds to produce terpenes and other cannabinoids. His hope is that environmentally conscious customers choose his products over those grown in a less sustainable manner.
“If you like to drink wine, we can think about the actions we take in our lives to create a climate to grow grapes,” he says. “The same is true of cannabis.”
Hanna Wyte, co-owner of Emerald Queen Farms in Humboldt County, agrees. She sees appellations as a way for the young cannabis industry to cause less harm to a planet that’s already in the grip of human-led climate change. “Ten years ago, we had weather where you would really be able to time your harvest and crop to produce sun-grown cannabis,” she says.
But things are different now, and the weather is much more unpredictable than it used to be. Like Barber, Whyte hopes that customers will be willing to fork out for a product that, despite such conditions, has been grown organically and has a smaller carbon footprint.
An interesting cannabis company you should watch is Gage Cannabis Co. Gage Cannabis is a vertically integrated cannabis company that has set its eyes on being the leading sector player in the Michigan cannabis market.
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