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Sorting Through the Weeds: Legal Cannabis Ushers in a New Era of Water Regulation in California

Cannabis field

This article breaks down California’s complex new Cannabis Cultivation Policy into bite-size pieces. It was written by Amy Steinfeld and originally published by The Water Report on March 15, 2019, Issue #181. 

No other crop in California is as highly regulated as cannabis. Obtaining a cannabis cultivation license is a herculean task that requires compliance with a host of new regulations and sign-off from a complicated web of state and local agencies. Approval from the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) and compliance with their new cannabis water regime is no exception.

Key takeaways on the new rules:

  • They were drafted with an eye toward illegal growing operations clustered in sensitive habitat areas, and are therefore overprotective and ignore the reality of legal cannabis farming.
  • In singling out one crop, they amount to an unprecedented water grab.
  • Cannabis growers looking to reduce permitting time and consultant costs should site cannabis farms on relatively flat, historically cultivated land with existing agricultural facilities, wells, ample groundwater supplies, and access roads, or alternatively, grow cannabis indoors.

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