Law enforcement is a critical component of California’s transition into a regulated cannabis industry. CDFW's wildlife officers are fully fledged peace officers authorized to enforce all laws of the State of California. CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division (LED):
- Works with growers to bring their facilities into compliance,
- Provides assistance in remediating criminal environmental violations,
- Works with other agencies to remove illegal grows, growers, illegal water impoundments, and extremely toxic chemicals frequently associated with illegal grows, and
- Protects California’s unique, beautiful, and diverse natural resources.
Cannabis cultivation has the potential to affect fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats (learn more about cannabis and the environment). Inspections have led to violations for water diversions and storage, grading, chemical use, wildlife threats, timber conversion, and public safety. Between 2013 and early 2018, more than 700 inspections resulted in 399 tons of trash removed from public and private lands including: 2.4 million feet of irrigation pipe, 50 tons of fertilizer, and 465 gallons of chemicals (many illegal in the US). In addition, the removal of 709 dams and water diversions resulted in restoration of 800 million gallons of water back into local watersheds.
To cultivate cannabis legally within California, cultivators must have 1) a California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) license, 2) local authorization or permit, and 3) a CDFW Lake and Streambed Alteration (LSA) Agreement or letter stating an Agreement is not necessary. Other permits may be necessary depending on the project. A CDFW LSA Agreement is one part of the regulatory process, and alone, it is not sufficient to meet the State of California’s cannabis cultivation licensing requirements.
CDFW law enforcement efforts will help bring the cannabis industry into better compliance with environmental laws, will allow permitted growers in compliance with environmental laws to have an advantage over those who are not, and will result in an industry that provides a safer cannabis product to the public, cultivated with reduced impact to the environment.