Marijuana cultivation to face environmental regulation thanks to AB 243

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Nina Erlich-Williams, 510-336-9566
C: 415-577-1153, nina@publicgoodpr.com

New law aims to reverse environmental damage, regulate water and pesticide use

Sacramento – Late last night, the California Legislature passed a package of ground-breaking legislation aimed at bringing the state’s $16 billion marijuana cultivation industry in line with other agricultural operations around the state. The move was prompted in part by significant environmental damage caused by the industry in California’s northernmost counties, where production is concentrated.

“California’s watersheds and wildlife have taken a serious hit from an unregulated cannabis production industry in recent years, with the ongoing drought making the situation even worse,” said Curtis Knight, executive director of watershed and fish advocacy group California Trout. “Thanks to the leadership of Assemblymember Wood, we will finally see significant resources dedicated to protecting and restoring lands and waters that have been decimated by bad actors in this industry.”

Marijuana production has spiked in California since the state legalized medical use of the substance in 1996. The state has provided virtually no oversight over marijuana farms despite a tremendous growth in the industry. The industry has boomed in recent years, with increasing numbers of producers overtaking remote areas and illegally diverting water out of North Coast rivers, creeks and streams that provide critical habitat for imperiled species like steelhead trout and salmon. Portions of the Eel River and other significant creeks and streams have run dry due to unregulated water diversions.

Assemblymember Wood’s efforts to ensure that environmental protection was included in the package of marijuana regulation bills have been lauded by a long list of conservation organizations. Supporters of AB 243 include California Trout, Pacific Forest Trust, Sierra Club California, The Nature Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land and Trout Unlimited.

AB 243 is one of a package of bills passed today by the Legislature aimed at providing increased oversight – and the necessary accompanying funding – to ensure that the marijuana industry complies with state standards and regulations with regard to water use, water discharge and pesticide and insecticide use. Governor Brown is expected to sign the bills into law.

“California Trout is grateful for the clear vision and quick action from the Senate and Assembly leadership as well as Governor Brown in addressing this critical issue,” added Knight.

In addition to increasing regulation over marijuana cultivation, AB 243 establishes the Marijuana Production and Environmental Mitigation Fund, which will provide dedicated resources to environmental cleanup to restore critical habitats. It also makes the multiagency task force pilot program that responds to cultivation damage a permanent and statewide program.
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Nina Erlich-Williams, Principal
Public Good PR
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