California Cannabis Grower Agrees to Pay $750K for Water & Wildlife Violations

The owner of two Humboldt County cannabis cultivators has agreed to a $750,000 settlement for environmental violations, promising to pay fines to state agencies and undertake restorative measures as part of the court-approved agreement.

Full story after the jump.

The owner and operator of two Humboldt County-based cannabis cultivators, The Hills LLC and Shadow Light Ranch LLC, has agreed to pay $750,000 in fines and to take restorative actions after being accused of violating California state regulations protecting water and wildlife.

In a settlement approved by the Humboldt County Superior Court, Joshua Sweet — who owns and operates both cannabis grows — agreed to pay $500,000 to the Division of Water Rights, $175,000 to the North Coast Water Board, and $75,000 to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), according to a CDFW press release. Additionally, Sweet must obtain permits for his operations and take action to revert alterations to the water supply.

The restorations must be complete and the fines must be paid within five years, according to the settlement.

Sweet recently told CalMatters that he intends to “follow through with my end of the settlement” and that if the fines had been due immediately, “it would take everything I own.” Additionally, while Sweet recognized that his actions violated state law, he said he did not believe he was being treated fairly:

“Even during our court-mandated settlement conference, they were asked why they would go after a small independent businessman with these type of enormous fines usually reserved for huge corporations that destroy ecosystems.” — Sweet, in an email to CalMatters

The Hills LLC and Shadow Light Ranch LLC are based on 435 acres in The Emerald Triangle, a three-county region that is world-famous as an underground, frequently generational cannabis cultivation hub.

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