Severe Drought Could Hamper California Rec Efforts

Momentum is building for efforts to legalize recreational cannabis in California next year, but one issue in particular could sway some voters against the idea: water.

The state’s historic drought might serve as a rallying cry for those against recreational legalization, particularly traditional farmers and fishing companies who will likely argue that it’s more important to direct water toward food over cannabis, according to a report by International Policy Digest, a U.S. and foreign policy website.

Advocates for a recreational market, however, will likely argue that legalization would spur conservation efforts and do away with the numerous illegal growers who overuse water and pollute waterways, according to the report.

Marijuana cultivators have said they’re increasingly employing water and energy conservation practices to cut costs and reduce their impact on the environment. Some are exploring lighting that uses less energy and puts out less heat, reducing their electric bills, while others are finding ways to catch rainwater for their crops.

Local authorities are already cracking down on producers who are not following rules. A water board in the Central Valley region recently fined a medical marijuana grower and his contractor nearly $300,000 for grading land in a way that harms surface water.