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Cannabis Program News

Updates for users of CDFW's Cannabis Program

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Close to Home: Regulating pot farms will take collaboration

A message from Charlton H. Bonham, Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

At the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, we know the process of regulating cannabis cultivation is going to be complicated. Underscore complicated. We realize this is an important moment in time. We want to collaborate with cultivators and local governments to bring growers into compliance with state laws.

While Department of Fish and Wildlife enforcement is often a focus of debate, let’s not forget the Department of Fish and Wildlife has made extensive outreach efforts, including more than 100 presentations to groups of cannabis farmers and other constituents explaining how to acquire proper permits. Our department has also started to build new, nimble permitting processes with dedicated staff to handle the expected onslaught of new permit requests. We expect to receive thousands of such requests.

Since the passage of Proposition 64, along with all of this outreach and preparation for bringing cultivators into permitting, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has executed approximately 87 cannabis-related search warrants statewide. California is big, about 163,000 square miles. Of these warrants, only 44 were in the Emerald Triangle. In addition, our department has conducted approximately 137 administrative inspections in the Emerald Triangle where no plant eradication took place. The reality is, some people want more enforcement and some want less.

Read the full story from the Press Democrat.

Guidance for Compliance with Section 1602 of the Fish and Game Code

California law (Fish and Game Code section 1602) requires an entity to notify the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) before commencing an activity that will:

  • Substantially divert or obstruct the natural flow, or substantially change or use any material from the bed, channel, or bank of any river, stream, or lake.
  • Deposit or dispose of debris, waste, or other material where it may pass into any river, stream, or lake.

California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) requires that you demonstrate compliance with Fish and Game Code section 1602 by including a CDFW Lake or Streambed Alteration (LSA) Agreement, or written verification that an Agreement is not required, with your Cannabis Cultivation Annual License Application. To notify CDFW and receive an LSA Agreement or written verification that an Agreement is not required, please visit: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/LSA/Notify-CDFW.

When you notify, identify all existing and proposed project infrastructure and activities associated with cannabis cultivation and site access. Activities include, but are not limited to, water diversion and storage, road construction, riparian vegetation removal, and stream crossing (bridge, culvert, rock ford) construction, reconstruction, decommissioning, and maintenance. 

Upon receipt of a complete notification, CDFW will begin review and may conduct a site visit. Based on CDFW findings, you will receive either an LSA Agreement or written verification that an Agreement is not required.

If you have an existing LSA Agreement, be sure that it covers all of your activities and that it has not expired. If not all activities are covered, you will need to submit a new LSA Notification and obtain an LSA Agreement to cover the additional activities.

For more information and answers to common questions, visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Cannabis/Permitting.

CDFW appreciates your cooperation in protecting California’s fish and wildlife resources.


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