California Cannabis Appellation Program

You might have heard of wine appellations, but what about cannabis appellations?

An appellation is a defined geographical name, such as a region, village, vineyard under which a wine grower can identify where the grapes were grown. Other types of food and agricultural products often have appellations as well.

The Mendocino Appellations Project has been at the forefront for designing a system for cannabis to be mapped within the micro regions of Mendocino, dividing the county into 11 zones based on distinct soil and climatic conditions.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is working to implement a Cannabis Appellations Program statewide through Senate Bill 67, which is required to develop the process of how state licensed cannabis cultivators can establish an appellation of origin by January 1, 2021.

What is the purpose for establishing an appellations system for cannabis? CDFA states this would help “promote regional products and local businesses, prevent the misrepresentation of the origin of a product, and support consumer confidence about the origin and certain characteristics of a product”.

Senate Bill 67 additionally pushes further importance of cannabis packaging and compliance.

The following are some of the regulations stated:

Article 3. Cultivation License Fees and Requirements

§ 8212. Advertising, Marketing, Packaging, and Labeling of Cannabis and Non-manufactured Cannabis Products.

(a) Advertising and marketing of cannabis and non-manufactured cannabis products shall meet all of the following:

  1. Cannabis shall not be advertised or marketed containing any statement, design, device, or representation which tends to create the impression that the cannabis originated from a particular county or appellation of origin, unless the label of the advertised product bears that county of origin or appellation of origin.

(b) Packaging and labeling of cannabis and non-manufactured cannabis products shall meet all of the following:

  1. Applicable requirements pursuant to sections 26120 and 26121 of the Business and Professions Code.
  2. Any other requirements for cannabis and non-manufactured cannabis product specified by the bureau and the California Department of Public Health.
  3. Packaging and labeling requirements pursuant to chapter 6 (commencing with section 12601), division 5 of the Business and Professions Code.
  4. A package for retail sale, excluding those solely containing immature plants or seeds, shall be child-resistant.
  5. A county of origin, appellation of origin, or any similar name that is likely to mislead consumers as to the kind or origin of the cannabis shall not be used in the labeling of cannabis unless:
    1. One-hundred percent of the cannabis was produced in the named county or appellation of origin.
    2. Records demonstrating compliance with subdivision (b)(5)(A) of this section have been retained by the licensee pursuant to section 8400 of this chapter.
    3. Within 30 days of the use of an appellation of origin, Notice of Use of the appellation of origin has been filed with the department pursuant to section 8212.1 of this chapter.
  6. For purposes of labeling and packaging using a county of origin or appellation of origin, cannabis is produced in a county or appellation of origin if all cultivation as defined in Business and Professions Code, section 26001, subdivision (l), starting from the time the cannabis plants were taller or wider than 18 inches, was conducted within the county or appellation of origin and according to any applicable standard, practice, and cultivar requirements.

Failure to comply with advertising or marketing and packaging requirements can result in minor fines ranging anywhere from $100-500.

In order to establish a new appellation of origin, a petition must be formed with “A general description and location of the proposed geographical area which may include information such as total acreage of the area, total canopy acreage within the area that is currently occupied under licensed commercial cannabis cultivation, and estimated cannabis canopy acreage eligible to use the proposed appellation of origin”.

For a more detailed explanation of the rules and regulations, or if you have questions please visit the CDFA website:, send an email to or call 1-833-225-4769

*THC Label Solutions provides this document to serve as a guide and not as legal advice.

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