Marijuana Appellations: The Case for Cannabicultural Designations of Origin
Harvard Law and Policy Review, Volume 11, Issue 2, 2017
28 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2016 Last revised: 2 Sep 2017
Date Written: July 27, 2016
As the era of marijuana prohibition draws to a close, one can’t help but wonder how the legal marijuana industry will take shape. The legalization movement is largely driven by ballot initiatives at the state level, and state regulators and lawmakers often lack easy answers to tough questions facing the industry. Marijuana legalization presents challenges on a number of fronts, including distribution, financing and taxation, consumption, security, and public health.
The agricultural dimension of the marijuana industry presents a number of regulatory challenges as well, with important questions that have not been answered. One of these questions is paramount: will marijuana agriculture become consolidated and commoditized, producing vast quantities of indistinct marijuana, or will small-scale farmers thrive by producing unique and localized marijuana?
This Article presents the case for American Cannabicultural Areas (ACAs). Adopting a system of appellations (in which designations of origin are legally protected) offers several benefits to farmers, consumers, and regulators. Appellations protect state and local economies and farming communities, create a market for unique agricultural products, and allow regulatory bodies to establish minimum standards for cultivation to ensure that marijuana agriculture is safe and sustainable. Challenges to this model are significant but not intractable. The legal marijuana industry is still in its infancy, but ACAs represent a promising regulatory model for marijuana agriculture.
Keywords: appellation, marijuana, regulation
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