How to Peddle Pot

As we face the possibility of cannabis legalization in California, growers worry about how to sell their product in the changing markets.  In Humboldt and Mendocino counties, marijuana producers are holding meetings and forming collectives to help them sell now, influence legislation, and grapple with issues that legalization might bring.  Some news outlets are following closely this area’s struggle.  CNN just put out a thoughtful piece entitled “How to peddle legal pot.” Following up on my article in the North Coast Journal, the report discusses in depth the wine industry model.

There are potential pitfalls to modeling your industry after the state’s thriving wine industry, said Terry Hall, spokesman for the Napa Valley Vintners Association.

Despite the prominence of the region’s name, Hall said, Napa produces only 4 percent of California’s wine. Without a doubt, the 30-mile-long river valley is prime grape-growing turf. With its abundant soil variations and elevations spanning 4,000 feet, farmers can grow grapes ranging from Riesling to cabernet.

The vintners association lobbies and litigates to protect Napa, which is part of a federally designated American Viticultural Area, Hall said.

But predating the association’s vigilance was an agreement among Napa wineries that they would promote the region before their own brands. This grape game theory is how a relatively small wine region ended up with such an iconic name, Hall said.

At the very least, Northern California’s pot growers should seek similar pacts to protect and promote potential brands like Humboldt, Mendocino or Emerald Triangle, he said.

“They need to have some sort of camaraderie in terms of what your mission is, come out of hiding, be proud of your product,” he said. “It will be a huge marketing endeavor to come out from under cover. They will be smart, I think, if they form these alliances earlier.”

On the 18th at the Garberville Civic Club, there will be another meeting of Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel (HuMMAP) which is working to organize growers, businesses and  employees of the cannabis industry at 6:30 PM.  It is time to “form these alliances!”

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