Fines for Water Use for California Cannabis Farmers

According to a recent news article from the San Francisco Gate, farmers who grow medical marijuana are now subject to huge fines for excessive water use. Unlike in years past, when marijuana growers were in constant fear of armed law enforcement agents coming onto their property with canine units and guns drawn, today, for the legal medical marijuana grower, the worst fear is seeing an inspector with a clipboard marking down water violations.

waterfalls-1431191-m.jpgThe Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board recently announced large fines against one landowner in a rural part of California. The allegation is the landowner and a general contractor assisting with the project diverted water through grading that could cause actual and potential harm to the flow of ground water in Shasta County. This actual and potential damage resulted in a fine of just under $300,000. The reason for the allegedly unauthorized grading of land was to provide water for a medical marijuana grow operation.

Authorities say landowner purchased and developed this land specifically for the purpose of growing marijuana. As part of the operation, the landowner graded and terraced nearly four acres of land. This is a violation of the Clean Water Act, because it can allow the release of highly erodible sediment, which can cause significant damage to the environment and can also contribute to the never ending water shortages in California by diverting water from its intended course.

As our Orange County medical marijuana collective attorneys can explain, the interesting part of this article is that the authorities are not going after landowners for growing a large amount of marijuana, as that is completely legal in this particular area, but rather they are going after him because he did not obtain permits for engaging in any construction that could affect the flow of water or violate the Clean Water Act.

Obviously, not many business owners are prepared to pay hundreds of thousands dollars in fines without having any significant impact on their business. Most medical cannabis growers would either not be able to pay the fines or would be driven out of business if they had to pay that much money to the state. For that reason, before spending a great deal of money on land and equipment, you should speak with a medical cannabis attorney. For cases like these, it may be best for your attorney to recommend a specialist who can inspect the land and will know the relevant water regulations and can advise you during the planning stages.

In some cases, it may best not to purchase a particular parcel of land, as it will never get the correct permits, but this is more valuable information before spending a considerable amount of money on the land and then getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
It should be noted, the local and state water boards are taking this issue of water use for cannabis grow operations very seriously, and millions of dollars have been allotted to hire new inspectors and create taskforces with the specific goal of issuing fines and citations for violations of state and county water use regulations.

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

Huge new water fines for marijuana farmers in California,June 12, 2015, SF Gate

More Blog Entries:

Four Competing California Marijuana Legalization Proposals, April 3, 2015, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog