Some state-legal cannabis growers in the western United States could see their water supply dry up soon.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees federal water resources, is currently evaluating whether the Controlled Substances Act allows it to turn off the spigot serving the marijuana industry.
Growers in larger cities would be insulated from a shutoff, as they typically don’t use much water supplied by federal source. But cultivation sites in some of the more rural areas of Washington state and Colorado in particular could be greatly impacted.
In Washington, the Bureau of Reclamation controls the water supply to approximately two-thirds of the state’s irrigated lands. In Colorado, the bureau delivers water to 1.25 million acres or rural land as well as to some cities.
Both states have sizable medical marijuana industries and recently legalized recreational cannabis.
At least one water official in Colorado believes the bureau will indeed shut the water off. “Certainly, every indication we are hearing is that their policy will be that federal water supplies cannot be used to grow marijuana,” said Brian Werner of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, according to the Huffington Post.
A spokesman for the bureau said it began the evaluation “at the request of various water districts in the West.” The bureau will announce its decision this month.