Environmental agencies in California have launched their 2022 enforcement program to address environmental impacts associated with cannabis cultivation. The enforcement plan includes the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Department of Cannabis Control (DCC), and State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and is focused on protecting “priority watersheds and areas with sensitive habitat and/or threatened or endangered species,” the agencies said in a press release.
The agencies note that California remains in drought conditions and that illegal cannabis grows divert water and pollute streams and rivers which “has significant physical, biological and chemical impacts that extend into the surrounding habitat adversely affecting not only the fish and wildlife species dependent on the stream itself, but also the plants and wildlife in the surrounding area that rely on the adjacent habitat for feeding, reproduction, and shelter.”
Sarah Paulson, acting cannabis program director, noted that CDFW “fully supports” the legal cannabis market but that as the state faces its second year of drought, protecting California’s natural resources “is more important than ever.”
David Bess, CDFW deputy director and chief of the Law Enforcement Division, said violators of the law “will be subject to enforcement actions.”
“The environmental impacts of illegal cannabis operations can last decades and cause irreparable harm to our natural resources.” — Bess in a statement
Just last month, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board fined three unlicensed Humboldt County growers $209,687 in connection to alleged sediment discharged into the tributaries of the Mad River.
The enforcement program is funded by cannabis-derived taxes and fees outlined in Proposition 64, which legalized cannabis for adult use in the state.
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