State Water Board Holding Public Comments on Cannabis Policy

The State Water Board will hold public hearings to receive oral comments regarding proposed updates to the: (1) Cannabis Policy; and (2) Cannabis Cultivation General Order. The State Water Board may adopt each of these items after their respective hearings. If the updates to the Cannabis Policy are adopted, it will be sent to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for approval and would become effective on or about April 1, 2019. The hearings will be conducted as part of the Board’s February 5, 2019, State Water Board meeting. The location and start time of the Board meeting are provided below.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019
9:30 A.M.
Joe Serna Jr. CalEPA Headquarters Building Coastal Hearing Room
1001 I Street, Second Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

Additional information on the hearings (Board meeting) is available at:

On June 27, 2016, the Governor signed Senate Bill 8371 , which among other things, codified Water Code section 13149 and authorized the State Water Board to adopt principles and guidelines (requirements) for cannabis cultivation as part of a state policy for water quality control. The State Water Board adopted the Cannabis Policy and Cannabis Cultivation General Order in October 2017 to minimize water quality degradation and low flow impacts associated with cannabis cultivation. The Cannabis Policy became effective upon OAL approval in December 2017.

The Cannabis Policy establishes requirements for cannabis cultivation activities to protect water quality and instream flows. The purpose of the Cannabis Policy is to ensure that the diversion of water and discharge of waste associated with cannabis cultivation does not have a negative impact on water quality, aquatic habitat, riparian habitat, wetlands, and springs. The Cannabis Policy requirements are primarily implemented by the State Water Board and Regional Water Quality Control Boards (collectively Water Boards) through the Cannabis Cultivation General Order and Cannabis Small Irrigation Use Registration regulatory programs, in addition to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Program.

The purpose of the Cannabis Cultivation General Order is to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that discharges to waters of the State do not adversely affect the quality and beneficial uses of such waters. The Cannabis Cultivation General Order is a simplified Waste Discharge Requirement (WDR) available to cannabis cultivators to regulate discharges of waste associated with cannabis cultivation. Threats of waste discharge may be from irrigation runoff, over fertilization, pond failure, road construction, grading activities, domestic and cultivation related waste, etc. The Cannabis Cultivation General Order implements the Cannabis Policy requirements and addresses activities related to cannabis cultivation and associated land development. Cannabis cultivation activities may occur indoor or outdoor. All commercial cannabis cultivators must obtain coverage under the Cannabis Cultivation General Order.

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