While research and social stigma around cannabis are changing rapidly, a surprising force behind the shift is women and moms. Social media is full of the “wine mom” trope and memes about “wine o’clock” and such, but the reality is many are swapping wine for a joint or gummy to wind down and get some […]
Hold the joint, because it would appear that Napa County wants to stick with wine. On Tuesday, its Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to ban agriculture, processing, and sale of marijuana within county lines.
Representatives of wineries had voiced concerns that legal marijuana in the area would unfairly benefit from the reputation for quality that has been established by Napa County vintners. Some fretted that cannabis fields would ruin the picturesque landscapes for which the area is known. Others saw a potential issue in the difference between pesticides employed by cannabis farmers, and worried that if marijuana farmers declined to use certain bug killers that wine crops could be adversely affected.
This is not the end of the road for marijuana in Napa, however. The ban is seen as a stop gap that will be in effect until the government has the chance to craft exhaustive cannabis regulations for the area.
Napa County has deliberated over the issue of how to regulate marijuana within its jurisdiction since 2018, when California passed Proposition 64 legalizing adult use cannabis. Despite forecasts that growing weed in the area could reap $760,000 to $1.52 million in yearly tax revenue and healthy debate that took place at a series of Board of Supervisors public outreach meetings, it appears that it has largely decided against joining the state’s cannabis industry.
David Morrison, the county’s Director of the Planning, Building and Environmental Services Department authored and presented the new ban, which will take effect on November 21, and extends a previous county prohibition on commercial marijuana activity that would have expired on December 4.
Tuesday’s ban will not apply to dispensaries located within city limits or marijuana delivery companies.
Is This The End of The Line For Napa Growers?
Advocates from the group Napa County Citizens for Responsible Green Cannabis Regulations had previously looked to put the issue up to the voters to decide, backing Measure J, which was originally set to be decided in next year’s March elections. The measure would have taxed and authorized cannabis cultivation on up to one acre on rural properties ten acres or larger, and mandated certain required distance for marijuana crops from schools and parks.
But in August, the coalition of cannabis advocates decided to switch tactics, looking to work on a marijuana-friendly ordinance with the Board of Supervisors and other groups involved. The decision to pursue the ordinance was made despite the fact that the Measure J team had accumulated enough signatures to get the issue on March ballots.
At times, the debate over marijuana in Napa County has seemed a bit divorced from reality. A report from HdL Companies and Goldfarb & Lipman, LLP commissioned by the Napa Board of Supervisors cautioned that smell from cannabis fields could set customers off their quaffs of pinot gris. “As a result, odor impact from nearby commercial cannabis operations could detract from both outdoor and indoor tasting areas at adjacent wineries,” the document concluded.
Not all cannabis farmers are in agreement with that assessment. A recent Napa Valley Register article followed a visit by Napa County Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht to Lake County farmer Eric Sklar’s marijuana fields.
“We’re about 2,000 feet from our garden. Smell anything?” asks Sklar. “No, I don’t,” Wagenknecht replied.
Will wine tasters be set off their cabernet sauvignon should Napa County decide to allow farmers to legally grow marijuana? Local vineyard industry leaders told the Napa County Board of Supervisors that they would at a meeting on Tuesday. In response, the board decided to send the issue of local pot grows to the county’s voters in next year’s March elections.
At issue was the cannabis agriculture regulations presented in Measure J, which has been backed by the cannabis industry. That proposal includes limits on the size of cannabis grow ops, and how close they can be planted next to vineyards. It also includes harsh limits on the kinds of pesticides that can be used on marijuana.
The pesticide issue presents its own concerns. An expert presenting at Tuesday’s meeting concluded that unlawful chemicals could reach cannabis fields from nearby vineyards. Conversely, producers of other crops worried that cannabis farmers’ failure to include such bug killers would leave neighboring fields susceptible to any entering plagues. “Cannabis could create vectors for introducing diseases or pests that are otherwise controlled,” said auditor Mark Lovelace of HDL Companies.
Napa County has been slow in deciding whether it would opt into California’s relatively new recreational cannabis industry. The voter-approved Proposition 64 instituted the system back in January of 2018. But there have been loud grumblings about whether cannabis would imperil the area’s wine industry, since there are much higher financial yields for marijuana agriculture than wine grapes.
But some say that what is at issue in Napa is the nature of the area’s vaunted reputation for wine culture. “I get it that the hundred-acre grows are way different than half-acre and 1 acre grows,” said board chairman Ryan Gregory. “But you lose control of the odor problem immediately.”
Perhaps he had been influenced by the somewhat hysterical assertions of wine industry professionals at the meeting.
“You can have a cannabis grow an hour and a half away from a tasting room and have clients at the tasting room smell the marijuana as if it’s growing right next to them,” opined Ryan Klobas, CEO of the Napa County Farm Bureau.
Klobas is far from the first wine guy to make the assertion that pot harms varietals. In 2017, the CEO of the chamber of commerce in Lodi, California, told the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors that nearby cannabis grow ops could damage wine grapes while they were still on the vine. “The odor travels, it could permeate grape skins and render the wine deficient, causing it to lose value,” he told the press after the meeting.
Despite such dubious assertions, however, some cannabis advocates present at the meeting emerged heartened that voters would have a say on the matter come next spring.
“This is a very happy day for me,” commented founding member of the Napa Valley Cannabis Association Eric Sklar.
Each Friday, we’ll be republishing an article from the High Times archives. This week, we’re bringing you an article by John Groff, published in the August/September, 1975 issue.
Three centuries after the European discovery of coca leaves, their amazing properties were still generally unknown. Then, in 1859, Paola Mantegazza, an eminent Italian neurologist, published “On the Hygienic and Medicinal Coca Virtues of Coca.” This monograph extolled the virtues of coca in the practice of medicine and inspired widespread interest in coca leaves.
By the mid-1860s, Europe and America were deluged with cocaine preparations, and a great social experiment of freely experienced cocaine was under way. By the 1890s coca was enjoying a phenomenal popularity, available everywhere in an astonishing variety of forms: tonics, elixirs, wines, liquors, lozenges, teas, cheroots, and more. The leading figures of the Victorian age — doctors, scientists, churchmen, prominent politicians, artists, singers, composers, even kings and queens — enjoyed coca and publicly endorsed it with enthusiasm. Surely coca was a major stimulant of gaiety in the Gay Nineties.
The man behind this phenomenon was Angelo Mariani, a Parisian pharmacist whose spécialité was an exquisite coca wine called Vin Mariani a la Coca du Perou. Born in 1839 in Corsica, from a long line of physicians and chemists, young Angelo was studying pharmacy in Paris just as the coca fad began. As a student Mariani dreamed of someday creating a great spécialité. Destiny placed in his hands a small brochure on coca. He plunged into experiments mixing coca with alcohol and eventually came up with a “tonic” mixture of fine Bordeaux red wine liberally laced with an extract of carefully selected coca leaves.
Around this time Dr. Charles Fauvel, a noted throat specialist, befriended Mariani. Nearly all of Fauvel’s patients were opera stars, the Nineties’ equivalent of today’s rock stars. Fauvel was convinced that coca wine had a soothing, tensing effect on the vocal cords, and one day sent a rasping vocalist to Mariani.
“It is excellent,” said the star after sipping a sample. “You will send me a dozen bottles.”
The opera star’s order forced Mariani to begin production. With Fauvel’s recommendation, his coca elixir was soon the rage among opera stars. So Mariani opened a small apothecary shop, where he sold nothing but his specialty, coca wine in seventeen-ounce (half-liter) bottles. According to Dr. W. Golden Mortimer, master historian of coca, Vin Mariani was the first and only coca preparation to accurately reproduce the taste and effects of the fresh coca leaves of Peru. Dr. Mortimer dedicated his history of coca use to Mariani, “A Recognized Exponent of the ‘Divine Plant’ and the first to render coca available to the world.”
To Dr. Mortimer, Mariani’s refreshment was a miracle. In his words, “the wonderful qualities of Coca remained locked as a scientific mystery unsolvable by the multitude until it was finally released from its enchanted spell as through some magic touch of a modern Merlin.”
Mariani, in Coca and Its Therapeutic Applications, wrote, “Vin Mariani contains the soluble parts of the Coca plant. The combination of Coca, with the tannin and slight traces of iron which this wine naturally contains, is pronounced the most efficacious of tonics.
“The fresh Coca leaves that we employ, after careful selection, come from three different sources and are of incomparable quality. It is this that gives to our wine that special taste and agreeable aroma which renders it so acceptable to the sick.
“It is likewise to the combination and preparing of these three varieties of Coca leaf in our wine that we can attribute this important fact: during more than thirty years, no matter in how large doses taken, Vin Mariani has never produced cocainism, nor any other unpleasant effects.
“Vin Mariani is a diffusible tonic, the action of which is immediate. This action, instead of being localized on a single organ, the stomach, spreads to the whole system. Taken into the circulation, it awakens in its course the retarded functions of every organ, and this is owing to the presence in our preparation of the volatile principles of the plant.”
With magic in every bottle of his wine and his own charismatic personality, Mariani soon found himself surrounded by a sizable constellation of stars and influential people from virtually every sector of society.
Mariani’s wine flowed in the veins of royalty and anarchy, patient and doctor, genius and general, popes and rabbis, atheists and mystics, Decadent artists and performers of every persuasion and perversion.
Paris in the Nineties witnessed the flourishings of the electric light, les Décadents, impressionist and symbolist poetry, and drugs. The Decadents, as they unabashedly liked to call themselves, formed an esthetic subculture of a few thousand artists and intellectuals, many of them popular musicians and performers. Describing the group in Dreamers of Decadence, Phillipe Jullian compares their peculiar appearance and use of ether and morphine to the lifestyle of today’s “hippies.” Sarah Bernhardt was without question the most immortal of the Decadents, and Vin Mariani wine permeated her circle as much as the Decadent philosophy.
But Vin Mariani was praised by dedicated Decadents and vociferous anti-Decadents alike. By the 1890s, Mariani’s wine had overflowed the cup of arts and letters into the arena of politics and power. It was a decade of agonizing political turbulence. Phillipe Jullian writes: “The Church was losing many of its faithful … the bourgeoisie, terrified by the Commune, was finding it impossible to recapture the sense of security it had known in the middle of the century; while high society felt ashamed of having enjoyed itself too much under the Second Empire…. As the century drew toward its close, a feeling of uneasiness became apparent in every class of society…. There was a fear of the end of civilization, a sort of millennium whose destructive forces would no longer be the angels of the Apocalypse, but either Socialism or the Machine, or the Yellow Peril.”
To survive, Parisian politicos relaxed with Vin Mariani. Amid the fear and loathing of the decade came the notorious Dreyfus Affair, the Watergate of 1894. Notable figures on both sides of the case were Vin Mariani imbibers, including Anatole France, Émile Zola, Manuel Prévost and Henri Rochefort.
When Mariani died the newspapers listed advertising innovations as his most important contribution to history. Yet his main technique came about entirely by accident when he began to receive numerous spontaneous endorsements from prominent personalities of the day.
In 1895, the publication of the first volume of Les Figures Contemporaines sent shock waves through the advertising world. Thirteen handsome editions of Vin Mariani endorsements were printed on the finest paper and included a delicately etched portrait of each notable, together with a short biography and some personal expression of gratitude to Mariani—a poem, a sketch, a few stanzas of musical composition, a bit of prose. These endorsements were never paid or bargained for in any way.
Strangely enough, Vin Mariani was so well established by then that it needed no endorsements, since Mariani did not care to woo a larger mass market. The great pharmacist refused to expand operations beyond the limits of his personal supervision. In truth, the wine earned its reputation solely on its own merits — consistently high quality, reliable effectiveness and an instantly recognizable sensation on the tongue.
Vet Mariani was barraged with so many endorsements that he had to limit their inclusion in his album. Naturally enough, Mariani’s tonic was also drunk and lauded by major religious leaders. Dr. Mortimer remarks that Pope Leo XII maintained his ascetic retirement with a never-empty vial of Vin Mariani strung from his neck. Pius X, several cardinals and prelates of other faiths, and even the Grand Rabbi of France are included among Les Figures Contemporaines. “A modern prayer. We no longer say ‘Hail Mary,’ we say ‘Hail Mariani’,” wrote playwright Émile Fabre in his own endorsement.
In their turn, European royalty joined in the praise. The kings of Spain, Greece, Serbia, Sweden and Norway, the Prince of Morocco and the Shah of Persia all drank coca wine and endorsed it. Queen Victoria asked for and received a complete set of Les Figures Contemporaines, which she cherished.
Meanwhile, stateside, Vin Mariani easily found its way to the Oval Office. President McKinley’s personal secretary, John A. Porter, sent Mariani a thank-you note “on the President’s behalf.” The sculptor who created the Statue of Liberty, Frederic- Auguste Bartholdi, loved Mariani’s wine too.
Perhaps even more astounding to some Americans, Thomas Edison also endorsed Vin Mariani. Edison almost went to South America once, but missed the boat in New Orleans. Who knows what the inventor of motion pictures and the phonograph might have gotten into had he made that boat?
Here are but a few of the accolades offered to Mariani and his wine.
Thomas Alva Edison: “Monsieur Mariani, I take pleasure in sending you one of my photographs for publication in your Album. Yours very truly.”
Sarah Bernhardt (actress): “I have been delighted to find Vin Mariani in all the large cities of the United States, and it has, as always, largely helped to give me that strength so necessary in the performance of the arduous duties which I have imposed upon myself.”
Émile Bergerat (poet, dramatist): ‘‘One glass of Coca Wine for an article, and two glasses for an aquarelle—that’s my dosage. But the real genius is at the bottom of the bottle.”
Lillian Russel (actress): “I have found Vin Mariani a pleasant stimulating tonic; and I constantly recommend it to my fellow artists.”
Alexandre Dumas fils: “Mariani, your sweet flasks delight my mouth.”
Jules Verne: “Since a single bottle of Mariani’s extraordinary coca wine guarantees a lifetime of a hundred years, I shall be obliged to live until the year 2700! Well, I have no objections! Yours very gratefully.”
H.G. Wells drew two little cartoons of himself, before (slouching and depressed) and after (radiant and elated) drinking Mariani’s wine.
Sully-Prudhomme (poet, philosopher): “You rejuvenate faces by at least a quarter of a century.”
Edmond Rostand (playwright, author of Cyrano de Bergerac): “I always keep a flask on my work table.”
Camille Flammarion (founder of the French Society of Astronomers): “Solar rays in bottles.”
Anatole France: “It is true that Mariani’s coca wine … spreads a subtle fire through the organism.”
Charles Gounod (composer of symphonies and operas): “To my good friend Mariani, beneficial revealer of this admirable coca wine from Peru, which has so often restored my strength.”
Louis Bleriot (the first aviator to fly the English Channel, in 1909): “I took the precaution of bringing a small flask of Mariani wine along with me, and it was a great help. Its energetic action sustained me during the crossing of the Channel.”
Despite the widespread popularity Vin Mariani enjoyed in its day and the thousands of famous people who endorsed its use, the fine wine is utterly forgotten today. Among the other coca-drinking lights of the fin-de-siècle period were playwrights Henrik Ibsen, and Victorien Sardou, actress Lillian Russell, opera stars Augusta Holmes and Enrico Caruso, artists Auguste Rodin and Felicien Rops, composer Camille Saint-Saens, and William Butler Yeats’s peripatetic lover, Maud Gonne.
How did Mariani live with this incredible success? What did he do with all the money? Always the gourmet and fond of throwing large dinner parties, Mariani entertained a salon of notables in his lavish Valescure villa with its Edenesque grounds. He cultivated coca plants “simply for amusement” in a greenhouse at his Neuilly residence. The ceiling of the living room was reserved for an allegory painted by his friend Eugene Courbin: The Goddess Bringing the Branch of Coca to Europe.
In all his business affairs — he made a fortune almost in spite of himself — Mariani was the ideal coke dealer. Georges Regnal, who published a biographical sketch of Mariani, describes him well:
“There was never any sign of servility in this shop. One felt that the ‘dealer’ did not exist, only a man who spontaneously empathized with even the slightest problem of whoever entered his threshold.
“In the evenings and on holidays, once his storefront was closed, he would go back upstairs to his home and become once again the enchanted wanderer, the lover of the beauty of life. Forever distracted by something or other, he would smoke on the terrace among his roses, leaf through books classifying the works of the poet and the artist he could have become himself had he chosen to express himself so. Already he preferred to remain the discrete amateur. Already he was buying the canvases of heavily indebted painters … and always enlarging his hospitality.”
Dubbed the “Propagator of Coca” in his own time, Mariani became a living legend. But the secret formula for Vin Mariani died with him in 1914, ironically the same year that Congress in the United States passed the Harrison Narcotics Act, making cocaine illegal.
Today another coca-derived drink, a pale imitation of Vin Mariani, sets the pace of the modern age. We are told to “relax,” “pause” and “refresh” with mass marketing’s answer to Angelo Mariani’s bracing elixir. Here’s to the Parisian pharmacist and a time when things did go better.
Some California cannabis farmers are looking to borrow the wine industry’s practice of verifying products by origin.
In the United States and internationally, wine that’s grown only within certain legally and geographically defined regions, called an appellation of origin or a viticultural area, can earn the right to claim heritage from that area. Now cannabis growers in Northern California’s Emerald Triangle, regarded as the top cannabis farming area in the U.S., are looking for the same kind of protection.
Located north of California‘s famous wine country, encompassing Napa and Sonoma counties, the Emerald Triangle comprises Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties. Growers there hope that by creating their own state-approved appellations of origin designations that they can protect and promote the region’s unique growing conditions, strain varieties, and eco-friendly styles of cultivation.
What makes Humboldt weed special?
“We are talking about a living plant. And a living plant that is cultivated within a living system. So we are looking at where is the natural habitat where it will best perform, and perform to its full expression,” said Tina Gordon, owner of Humboldt County’s Moon Made Farms.
“It’s the full-spectrum sunlight. It’s the night sky. It’s the temperature shifting. It’s the fresh air, it’s the rain caught water, it’s the proximity to the ocean, it’s the wind,” Gordon said. “So if you think about it like a grow room, we have the greatest grow room on earth.”
‘It’s the full-spectrum sunlight. It’s the night sky. It’s the temperature shifting. So if you think about it like a grow room, we have the greatest grow room on earth.’ Click To Tweet
Moon Made Farms employs organic, sun-grown techniques that tap into the native soil as well as ancient natural practices such as lunar cycle farming, Moon Made Farms is one of a handful of old-school independent cannabis farms located in the Palo Verde area of southern Humboldt County working on giving their watershed and community a world-recognized wine-style appellation of origin designation, which the French call an appellation d’origine contrôleé (AOC). Italy uses the designation denominazione di origine controllata (DOC). The Palo Verde appellation would be just one of many established throughout the Emerald Triangle, most in areas that have been cultivating cannabis for decades.
“We are pushing for an AOC model that many people are familiar with in Europe,” said Kristin Nevedal, the executive director of theInternational Cannabis Farmer’s Alliance(ICFA). In countries such as France and Switzerland, appellation designations are used to ensure strict adherence to certain growing conditions and cultivation within a specific micro-region, known as terroir.
“In the most traditional and classic sense of the matter, appellation designations are regulatory programs. In order to wear that designation, you have to meet some high standards in most cases. In the case of Champagne, you are limited to three different varietals you can grow. But these also have nutrient restrictions, water restrictions, etc. So they really are focused on cultivating in a way and manner that those grapes express the natural environment of that region,” Nevedal explained.
When Californians in 2016 passed Proposition 64, which legalized adult-use cannabis, the state legislature directed the California Department of Food and Agriculture, through the CalCannabis Office, to establish a process for designating appellations for standards, practices, and varietals in cannabis growing regions.
However, the actual creation of the AOC is left up to the cultivators themselves. The ICFA, which was formed to advocate for small cannabis farmers, is actively applying for a grant through the Headwaters Fund in Humboldt County to help establish appellations such as Palo Verde. The organization also is helping Mendocino County develop nearly a dozen different AOCs, which the countyidentified on a map in 2015.
“That map has been powerful in spurring the conversation in terms of what appellations might look like and some of those components will be very important to us as we move forward with developing the California Appellation Program,” Nevedal said. “What we expect is that the California Department of Food and Agriculture, through CalCannabis, will issue a draft regulation around appellation of origin by late 2019, and we will have the program in place by 2021 as a statute.”
Nevedal emphasized that unlike the county of origin designation, which labels California cannabis by the county it is produced in an inclusive way, the appellation of origin designation is highly exclusive by nature. It is hoped that by designating select Emerald Triangle marijuana farms with AOC certifications, growers can develop a reputation and prestige that cannot be matched by large commercial grows. The label also intends to give consumers a connection to the farms and communities themselves.
“Palo Verde, it is a heritage community,” Gordon said, explaining that the region was founded by back-to-the-landers who came to raise families in southern Humboldt County in the ’70s and ’80s, making the area part of the country’soriginal cannabis cultivation region.
“I would love to see [the Palo Verde AOC] connect people to source and to place,” she continued. “So I want them to be transported to the full sun, full night sky, open-air landscape with pristine, fresh inputs and nature’s full influence.”
For Gordon, the appeal to consumers is akin to what has driven explosive growth in the organic food movement, which broke $100 billionin global sales for the first time in 2018. Gordon said that organic, sun-grown cannabis is not only is better for the environment, but also is a cleaner product that is healthier for the consumer, adding that cultivators believe that full-spectrum sunlight produces a better cannabinoid and terpene profile than indoor-grown weed.
While the cannabinoids THC and CBD get lots of limelight, experts have long claimed that the interaction between different compounds, known asthe entourage effect, is responsible for many of the plant’s medicinal properties, as well as the differences in experience between various strains and qualities of cannabis. Recognizing this, the federal government recently called for new studies into the properties of lesser-known cannabinoids and terpenes, the latter responsible for the strong aroma and flavors of cannabis.
The craft cannabis cultivated in the Emerald Triangle’s designated appellations of origin would showcase the strains developed in the area over the decades. The label also would verify that the farms’ growing conditions are certified by the state as meeting exacting cultivation standards. In addition, the cannabis, like wine, could claim to express the flavors and characteristics of a specific terroir, or micro-region, just like AOC designations do in France.
The result, supporters claim, is a product that, like fine wine, stands head and shoulders above mass-produced marijuana.
Featured Image: Tina Gordon, founder of Moon Made Farms, is among the Emerald Triangle cannabis growers advocating for state-approved designations that could protect and promote the region’s unique growing conditions, strain varieties, and eco-friendly styles of cultivation. (Photo courtesy of Moon Made Farms)