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.

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5 comments on “Severe Drought Could Hamper California Rec Efforts
  1. Ellen Komp on

    Despite rather sensationalized stories to the contrary, the water used on cannabis in California is a literal drop in the bucket compared to that used on other agricultural crops. Cal NORML estimates 3000-12,000 acre-feet of water are required for all marijuana, licit and illicit grown in the state; by contrast almonds consume 3.7 million acre feet and all of agriculture 35-45 million. More at:

  2. Jahpharmer on

    El Nino is building this year, building very strong, too. More and more weather forecasts are predicting strong winter storms for NorCal…strong enough to perhaps end our drought, which bodes well for those of us who legally grow and legally work within what nature provides without interrupting water for our neighbors.

  3. Mountzioncollective on

    I don’t see it hurting the REc efforts though it has and will have an impact on the size of operations. People used to predict fields and fields of bulk low quality coming from the valley but as u noted that would not go over well for reasons u point out in the article.

  4. sparrow on

    A measure of utility or economic impact should be applied to every gallon. Washing cars and watering lawns would pale in economic importance compared to cannabis and its economic multipliers.

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