Appellation of Origin
& County of Origin

Appellations of origin are standards-based geographic designations awarded to products that are exceptional due to their origin of production. Well-known appellations include Bordeaux wines from the Bordeaux region of France, Prosciutto di Parma from the Parma region of Italy, and wines produced in the Napa and Sonoma regions of California.

Over several years, HCGA, in coalition with other heritage cannabis production regions, has successfully advocated for a program protecting California cannabis appellations modeled on similar successful programs from around the world.

Appellations express the unique “fingerprint” that a region and its farmers impart on cannabis produced there, inclusive of natural factors like climate, elevation, and soil, as well as human factors like community-wide standards, practices, and cultivars. This unique interaction of natural and human factors within a geographic region is often referred to as terroir

Humboldt’s long history of craft, sun-grown cannabis agriculture, based in communities with unique cultures and microclimates, makes Humboldt uniquely well-positioned to develop regional appellations of origin within the County. Beginning in 2021, farmers will be able to petition the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for the establishment of the world’s first cannabis appellations.

Public Policy Milestones


Worked with Senator McGuire to introduce and pass SB 67, reserving appellations of origin specifically for cannabis plants grown in the ground, under full sun, without the use of artificial lights or structures. Setting an in-ground, full-sun baseline for cannabis appellations ensures that appellations are based in the terroir of a region, and that California’s appellation regulations will meet established international standards for appellation recognition. SB 67 was signed by Governor Newsom on September 30, 2020.

Worked in coalition with other legacy producing region to submit extensive public comment on multiple sets of proposed CDFA appellation regulations.


Supported Senator’s McGuire’s SB 185, which prohibits the use of an appellation of origin or similar-sounding word unless the cannabis or cannabis product meets appellation requirements.

Participated in several months of meetings with the CDFA Appellations Working Group to provide input on the first draft of California cannabis appellation regulations.


Participated in CDFA scoping session on appellation regulations.


With CGA, supported policy in state law to require that “no later than January 1, 2021, CDFA shall establish appellations of standards, practices, and varietals applicable to cannabis grown in certain geographical areas of California.”


With CGA, supported policy in state law that “mandated establishing standards for recognition of a particular appellation of origin to marijuana grown in certain geographical areas in California.”


As regional partner of the California Growers Association (CGA), supported provisions in state law to allow for the “possible development of appellation of origin for marijuana grown in California.”

Humboldt County of Origin Designation

In addition to appellations of origin, California law also protects “county of origin,” ensuring that cannabis cannot be marketed using the name of a specific county unless 100% of the cannabis within the product was produced in the county. These laws ensure that all cannabis produced in Humboldt, regardless of production method, can benefit from exclusive use of the Humboldt name in marketing, advertising, and labeling.

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