U.S. Bans Legal Growers from Federal Water Supply

The conflict among state lawmakers, legal growers, and the federal government continues as the U.S. Department of the Interior has declared that legal marijuana growers cannot use federal water systems for their crops. The agency asserts that it must be in accordance with federal law when managing federal water resources. Contracts administered under the agency will be compliant with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, including those states where marijuana growing has been decriminalized.

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Representatives of the agency went on to say that any inconsistent uses of federal resources will be investigated and potentially prosecuted by the Department of Justice. Our Los Angeles marijuana defense lawyers are dedicated to advocating for the rights and interests of legal marijuana businesses throughout the state. In addition to advocate for individual and entity rights involving the possession and use of marijuana, we are also abreast of legal issues that may impact growers in the state of California.

According to recent reports, water resource contractors will coordinate with the Department of Justice and other enforcement agencies to ensure that growers are in compliance with federal laws. The ban of using federal water for marijuana growing raises important questions regarding criminal liabilities. Are employees responsible for reporting alleged use of water for cannabis cultivation? According to a temporary policy posted on the bureau’s website, employees are expected to bring allegations to regional directors.

Federal agencies are being forced to review how the ban on certain substances under the Controlled Substances Act should apply to activities under the Reclamation project to facilitate water distribution throughout states in the West. Though state officials are not surprised, the announcement could pose some hurdles for growers who have been dependent on federal irrigation projects. Those growers have been advised that they cannot contract with federal water projects.

The decision holds that because of the Controlled Substances Act, federally-controlled waterways cannot be used to cultivate marijuana. Currently, recreational marijuana growing is legal in Colorado and Washington and a dozen other states are currently reviewing legislation to legalize in upcoming years. The federal government has not budged on banning marijuana growing and has classified it as a Schedule 1 substance, the same category as heroin, LSD, and other synthetic and dangerous street drugs. Both Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana; however, the issue of cutting off water for marijuana was never raised as an issue until now.

Marijuana users, growers and activists have spoken out against the federal water ban — many have seen it as further evidence of the conflicting state and federal laws on the issue. The conflict between state laws and federal government underscores the need for Congress to take action to resolve polices. Activists also point out that the federal water systems can be used to grow tobacco and in alcohol distilleries, but that the decision is out of touch with public interest. Currently, it is unknown how many growers are dependent on a federal water supply, but the decision will likely have an impact in states where growing is legal, including California.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

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