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Santa Cruz Senator’s bill to curb illegal water usage at unlicensed cannabis cultivation sites becomes law


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KION-TV)- Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Santa Cruz Senator John Laird's SB 756 into law on Friday, according to the governor's office.

The bill addresses three issues regarding the State Water Board. First, its ability to participate in the inspection of unlicensed cannabis cultivation sites with law enforcement; second, its ability to inspect these sites for violation of water rights laws (including illegal diversion and/or use); and third, its ability to serve various types of legal documents and provide notice to unlicensed cannabis cultivation sites.

“Unlicensed cannabis cultivation poses a significant threat to California’s water supply and quality, which can harm our communities and sensitive wildlife. Thousands of pounds of sediment, banned rodenticides and pesticides, and chemicals are improperly discharged into our watersheds. Millions of gallons of water are illegally diverted or stolen daily. These water violations are felt all the way down to the taps in our homes where residents’ drinking water have been threatened.

[This bill] equips the State and Regional Water Boards with the tools to investigate and enforce water quality and diversion violations associated with unlicensed cannabis cultivation, focusing on priority watersheds that are at high risk of environmental damage and unsafe drinking water supply. The bill authorizes Water Boards staff to obtain inspection warrants for suspected illegal water diversions, participate alongside law enforcement who have obtained appropriate criminal warrants, and serve enforcement documents through mail delivery methods that track receipt to prevent unlicensed cultivators from evading enforcement notices.”

According to the bill's author

A full text of the bill can be found here.

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Katie Nicora

Katie Nicora is the Dayside Producer for KION News Channel 5/46


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