Cannabis Cultivation Policy

What's New

NEW Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment Concerning Winterization Revisions to Proposed Updates to the Cannabis Policy (Notice) - January 10, 2019

Winterization Revised Proposed Updates Released for Public Comment (January 10, 2019)

NEW Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment, Staff Information Workshops, Board Workshop, and Public Hearing (Notice)

On September 28, 2018, the State Water Board released proposed updates to the Cannabis Cultivation Policy – Principles and Guidelines for Cannabis Cultivation (Cannabis Policy), Cannabis Cultivation Policy Staff Report (Staff Report), and General Waste Discharge Requirements and Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements for Discharges of Waste Associated with Cannabis Cultivation Activities (Cannabis Cultivation General Order) for public comment.

The public comment period ended November 27, 2018. To view the comments received, click here.

The State Water Board will hold public hearings to receive oral comments regarding (1) the Cannabis Policy, and (2) the Cannabis Cultivation General Order. The State Water Board may adopt each of these items after their respective hearings. The hearings will be conducted as part of the Board’s February 5, 2019, State Water Board meeting. The location and start time of the Board meeting are provided below.

State Water Board Public Hearing

Tuesday, February 5, 2019
9:30 A.M.
Joe Serna Jr. CalEPA Headquarters Building
Coastal Hearing Room
1001 I Street, Second Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

Additional information is available in the Notice.

Cannabis Cultivation Policy - Principles and Guidelines (Requirements) for Cannabis Cultivation

On October 17, 2017, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) adopted the Cannabis Cultivation Policy – Principles and Guidelines for Cannabis Cultivation (Cannabis Policy), under Resolution No. 2017-0063. The state’s Office of Administrative Law approved the Cannabis Policy on December 18, 2017, putting the policy into effect as of that date.

Principles and guidelines (requirements) of the Cannabis Policy will be implemented through the Water Boards Cannabis Cultivation Program, water right and water quality permits, and incorporated into licenses issued by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) under its CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Program.

The Cannabis Policy establishes principles and guidelines (requirements) for the diversion and use of water, land disturbances, and the activities related to cannabis cultivation to protect water quantity and quality. The requirements help to minimize the effects of cannabis cultivation on fisheries, wildlife, and water quality, maintain healthy riparian corridors, and protect springs, wetlands, and aquatic habitat.

The focus at this time is on interim requirements. The State Water Board may update the interim requirements established in the Cannabis Policy as reasonably necessary, pending development of long-term requirements.

Fully Contained Springs

Fully contained springs do not flow off a person’s property in the absence of diversion, including wet years, or after periods of heavy rain. The Cannabis Cultivation Policy allows cultivators to request an exemption from certain flow requirements if the spring being used for cannabis cultivation meets a set of pre-determined conditions. The full text of the requirements is available.  Detailed information on how to request a fully contained spring exemption is available here.

Compliance Gage Webpages

Online Cannabis Compliance Gage Mapping Tool - The Online Mapping Tool provides cannabis cultivators that divert surface water with a tool to check whether they may divert for cannabis cultivation on a given day.

Cannabis Compliance Gages Website (Cannabis Policy, Attachment A, Section 4)- Provides an overview of the Cannabis Policy’s current list of active compliance gages and the associated Tessmann Instream Flow Requirements. Please use the online mapping tool above to determine whether water is available to divert at your point of diversion.

Cannabis Policy Development & Outreach

December 2017 Public Workshop

Visit the Cannabis Policy (adopted October 17, 2017) Development & Outreach page


On June 27, 2016, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed Senate Bill No. 837 (SB 837), which required the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board), in consultation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), to adopt interim and long-term principles and guidelines (requirements) for the diversion and use of water for cannabis cultivation in areas where cannabis cultivation may have the potential to substantially affect instream flows.

Per Water Code section 13149, the principles and guidelines:

  • Shall include measures to protect springs, wetlands, and aquatic habitats from negative impacts of cannabis cultivation;
  • May include instream flow objectives, limits on diversions, and requirements for screening of diversions and elimination of barriers to fish passage; and
  • May include requirements that apply to groundwater extractions.