Important Environmental Requirements for California Cultivators

CalCannabis anticipates that it will start issuing state cannabis cultivation licenses — both temporary and annual — on January 1, 2018. Applications are not yet available, but will be soon.

Before applying for a state cultivation license, there are two things you must do to ensure compliance with environmental regulations pertaining to water use and discharge: all cultivators — regardless of size, type, and whether indoor or outdoor — must register with both the State Water Resources Control Board and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

State Water Resources Control Board Requirements

Through the State Water Resources Control Board (“Board”), all cultivators must register their water right and water discharge using the Board’s online portal here. The registration requirements can be found in the new Cannabis General Order, which the Board adopted on October 17, 2017. The portal is a centralized registration system for all cultivators, regardless of what you have applied for in the past with the Board and/or a regional board.

Water Rights

Though the portal will walk you through the process step-by-step, some general information: (1) If you do not yet have a water right with the Board, you will use the portal to register for a Small Irrigation Use permit, which will act as your water right for cannabis cultivation and allow you to build storage and store water during the winter season. (2) If you already registered your water right prior to October 31, 2017, you will also use the portal to register for a Small Irrigation Use permit so that you can build storage and store water during the winter season. There is a small chance that you already have the right to store water through your water right, but you should go through the portal in any case.

Water Discharge

You should also use the portal to register your water discharge, which will allow you to legally dispose of water used in the cultivation process. Some cultivators in the North Coast and Central Coast Regions already registered for a Waiver of Waste Discharge with their applicable regional water quality board. Generally, those permits will remain valid until July 1, 2019. Though the portal will walk you through the registration process, just note that no new requirements will be thrust upon you until at least July 1, 2019, and only then if the regional boards determine new policies are necessary for improved water quality in those watersheds.

Department of Fish and Wildlife Requirements

In addition, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (“Department”) requires all cultivators to submit a Lake and Streambed Alternation (“LSA”) Notification to the Department under Section 1602 of the Fish and Game Code (unless you have done so already). Please find the LSA Notification forms and instructions here. Please submit the Notification Form and, unless you are using a municipal water source, the Appendix C form. Once you submit the LSA Notification, the Department will either issue an LSA Agreement or written verification that one is not required. The Agreement or written verification must be submitted with your state cultivation license application.

Please note that the LSA Notification will not be required for a temporary cannabis cultivation license, however, several localities require an LSA Notification for local compliance. In any case, we urge you to submit your LSA Notification at your earliest convenience in order to comply with state law.

Please contact our office to further discuss any questions you have pertaining to the above items or the state licensing program, in general. Our team can be reached via email or at (707) 526-0420.

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