cannabis legislation

Growing Green: California Cannabis Legislation Update – October, 2023

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SYRCL’s vision for its Growing Green program is to inspire the community to engage in sustainable and ecologically sound cannabis cultivation in the Yuba River watershed.

In October, Governor Newsom signed two cannabis-related bills that will protect our waterways from plastic tags and illegal activity that causes damage to our rivers and groundwater. 

SB 622 ends single-use plastic tags that are currently required on cannabis plants. According to a Senate analysis of the bill, “43 million plant tags were issued to licensed cultivators and microbusinesses in 2022 for a total cost to the state of $15 million.” Single-use plastics contribute to plastic waste which can negatively impact our rivers. 

“Beyond environmental and financial impacts for our local governments, plastic products have become a public health hazard such that we are finding microplastics in bloodstreams. We should act responsibly to curb the unnecessary use of plastics where possible,” said Senator Allen, who chairs the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. “As the cannabis industry continues to develop in California, it is critical that we support sustainability as a pillar of its growth. SB 622 aims to do just that, and I thank Governor Newsom for signing this common-sense measure.”  

SB 622 will provide more flexibility to the Department of Cannabis Control to regulate how cannabis plants are tracked to ensure easy identification of plants for effective enforcement by inspectors and compliance by cultivators, while minimizing plastic wasteful and environmental damage. The bill leaves room for emerging technologies like digital tags and allows for alternatives such as centralized lists of identifiers to locate plants. 

SB 753 changes the existing law that regulates the cultivation of cannabis for non-medical purposes. The law says that a person who grows more than six cannabis plants may be charged with a felony if they cause substantial environmental harm to public lands or other public resources. The bill adds that a person may also be charged with a felony if they grow cannabis that causes substantial environmental harm to surface or groundwater. This means that a person who grows cannabis must follow the rules and standards to protect the water quality and quantity in California. The bill aims to prevent the negative impacts of cannabis cultivation on the environment and public health.  

SYRCL is the Yuba Riverkeeper and a member of the California Coastkeeper Alliance.  CCKA was a sponsor of SB 753. CCKA’s Executive Director, Sean Bothwell, testified in support of SB 753 at the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water hearing in March 2023. 

SB 753 will create a pathway for cannabis cultivators to obtain water rights and comply with state water quality and quantity standards.” 

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