Cannabis Regulatory Program
Welcome to the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s (Central Coast Water Board) Cannabis Regulatory Program webpage. The Central Coast Water Board regulates discharges from irrigated agricultural lands to limit environmental damage associated with commercial crop production. This applies to owners and operators of irrigated lands used for the commercial crop production of cannabis.
The amended Cannabis Cultivation General Order and adopted documents effective as of April 16th, 2019:
- Resolution No. 2019-0007, Adopting the Updates to the Cannabis Cultivation Policy
- Cannabis Cultivation Policy
- Cannabis Cultivation Policy Staff Report
- Cannabis General Order (Order No. WQ 2019-0001-DWQ)
History of the Cannabis General Order and Cannabis Policy
On October 17, 2017, the State Water Board adopted the Cannabis Cultivation Policy - Principles and Guidelines for Cannabis Cultivation (Cannabis Policy) and General Waste Discharge Requirements and Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges of Waste Associated with Cannabis Cultivation Activities (Cannabis General Order). The State Water Board established this new regulatory program to address water quality and quantity issues related to cannabis cultivation and to meet the directives of Senate Bill (SB) 837 (Statutes 2016, Chapter 32, Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review) and the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA; Senate Bill 94 [Statutes 2017, Chapter 27, Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review]).
On December 18, 2017 the State's Office of Administrative Law approved and put into the State's regulatory code the State Water Board’s Cannabis Regulatory Program.
On February 5, 2019, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted the proposed updates to the Cannabis Policy – Principles and Guidelines for Cannabis Cultivation under Resolution No. 2019-0007. The updates were focused on requirements related to tribal buffers, indoor cultivation sites, onstream reservoirs, and winterization requirements.
The state’s Office of Administrative Law approved the updates to the Cannabis Policy, which is now in effect as of April 16, 2019.
Annual reports are due March 1st for all Tier 1 and Tier 2 cultivators. To submit the annual report, log in to the Cannabis Regulatory Program Portal and complete the "Online Cannabis Water Quality Monitoring & Reporting Program" survey.
A virtual annual reporting workshop was hosted by the Central Coast Water Board on February 19, 2021 from 10 am-12 pm via Zoom. A recording of the workshop can be accessed here: Click on Link.
Annual Reporting Workshop Materials:
Technical reporting is required for cannabis cultivators based on operation size and site characteristics. Templates and reporting guidelines are linked below.
Technical Report Templates:
Technical reports are due within 90 days of the issuance of a notice of receipt.
Technical Reporting Guidelines:
The Water Boards Cannabis Regulatory Program Portal hosts several survey-style applications within one convenient online dashboard.
|To apply for coverage under the General Order...||Complete the "Cannabis General Order and Small Irrigation Use Registration Portal" survey.|
|To submit Annual Monitoring Reports...||Complete the "Online Cannabis Water Quality Monitoring & Reporting Program" survey.|
|To submit a Notice of Termination...||Complete the "Cannabis Order Termination Request Form" survey.|
Cannabis Cultivation FAQs
Frequently asked questions on the Cannabis General Order, Cannabis Policy, inspections, enforcement, and other topics.
Cannabis Regulatory Program Application Process FAQs
Frequently asked questions about applying for enrollment under the Cannabis General Order, based on common application issues.
Cannabis Cultivation Permitting Workshop
A virtual cannabis cultivation permitting workshop was held on July 22, 2020 with presentations from Department of Cannabis Control, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, State Water Board, and other agencies. The workshop can be viewed here.
This map is intended to help cannabis cultivators determine the classification of waterbodies and watercourses near their cultivation sites. The classifications in the map are based on data provided by the United States Geologic Survey National Hydrography Dataset and are one source of information used by Water Board staff to evaluate past and current watercourse classifications and determine setback requirements. This map is provided for informational purposes only and does not determine the final classification of waterbodies under the Cannabis General Order. Please contact Water Board staff for more information on how waterbody classifications affect enrollment in the Cannabis General Order.
Resources for Identifying and Assessing Best Management Practices
Watershed Best Management Practices for Cannabis Growers and Other Rural Gardeners
Cannabis Cultivation Best Management Practices Flyer
Handbook for Forest, Ranch & Rural Roads
Cannabis and Pesticides
CalRecycle Cannabis Waste Questions and Answers
Contacts for Permitting and Technical Assistance
Cannabis Cultivation Contacts and Resources: A list of county contacts, government agencies, non-profits, industry groups, and more.
Technical Assistance Providers: A list of individuals who can assist growers with technical reports and environmental compliance, particularly with meeting the requirements found in Attachment A of the Cannabis Policy.
Disclaimer: These lists are intended to serve as a resource for cultivators, not an endorsement by the Water Board. If you would like to be added to either of these lists, please email centralcoast.cannabis@Waterboards.ca.gov.
Map of the Regional Boards
The Cannabis Regulatory Program is implemented by the Regional Boards. A map of Regional Board boundaries can be found here.
Cannabis Priority Watersheds
The State Water Board in coordination with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) have identified Cannabis Priority Watersheds throughout the state that are of special environmental concern and are at increased risk of environmental impacts due to cannabis cultivation activities.
In October 2015, the Governor signed into law the California Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA), which consists of three bills (Assembly Bills 243 and 266, and Senate Bill 643) that created a licensing and regulatory framework for medical cannabis. In November 2016, California voters voted in favor of Proposition 64, which permits non-medical use of cannabis for adults over the age of 21. The passage of this new legislation regarding cannabis use, distribution, manufacturing, cultivation and transportation brings with it new regulatory requirements.
Cannabis cultivators are now required to obtain state and local cultivation license and must meet all state and local environmental regulations including the Water Code, Basin Plan, and Clean Water Act. Cannabis cultivation can cause significant environmental damage, including discharges of polluted wastes to surface water and groundwater, erosion and sedimentation, and illegal diversions of surface water. The environmental provisions of MCRSA and Prop 64 are more important now than ever to limit environmental degradation associated with cannabis cultivation as the new legislation will bring existing cultivators into a regulatory framework and new cultivators will join the growing market.
On September 22, 2021 the State Water Board adopted the fiscal year 2021/2022 Water Quality Fee Schedule. To determine the correct fee amount, refer to the Tier and Risk Designation, or Waiver Type listed on the Notice of Receipt (NOR) emailed to the applicant upon submission of the completed application, or listed on an enrollees Notice of Applicability (NOA).
Subscribe to our Cannabis Cultivation email list to receive notifications and the latest updates. After subscribing, you will need to check your email host for a confirmation email to complete the subscription.
Regional Board Contacts
- General Inquiries
Phone: (805) 594-6194
- Arwen Wyatt-Mair
Phone: (805) 542-4695
- Alyssa Bucci
Phone: (805) 549-3333
- Ryan Lee
Phone: (805) 542-4627
- Sarah Bragg-Flavan
Water Resource Control Engineer
Phone: (805) 542-4636
State Water Board Contacts
- State Water Board Cannabis Cultivation Programs
- State Water Resources Control Board Cannabis Regulatory and Enforcement Unit
- State Cultivation Licenses: Department of Cannabis Control Cultivation Licensing under the California Department of Food and Agriculture
- Distributor, Dispensary, and Transporter Licenses: The Bureau of Cannabis Control under the Department of Consumer Affairs