Cannabis Cultivation Policy Development


Cannabis cultivation legislation enacted California Water Code (Water Code) section 13149, which directs the State Water Board, in consultation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), to adopt interim and long-term principles and guidelines for the diversion and use of water for cannabis cultivation in areas where cannabis cultivation may have the potential to substantially affect instream flows. The legislation requires the State Water Board to establish these as part of a state policy for water quality control.

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.

The State Water Board may update the interim principles and guidelines (requirements) established in the Cannabis Policy as reasonably necessary, pending development of long-term principles and guidelines.

Policy Development

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.

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