A study from the University of California Berkeley Cannabis Research Center has determined that licensed cannabis cultivation operations use less water than previously thought. Researchers from the center began studying water use by cannabis growers in 2017, following the legalization of recreational marijuana in California the previous year.
Data for the study was collected from water use reports from growers licensed to cultivate cannabis and from anonymous farmer surveys. The research determined that cannabis farmers are irrigating their crops with water from several sources including streams, wells, captured rainwater, springs, and municipal water systems. Researchers found that most regulated cannabis operations use water from groundwater wells.
“There is growing concern over the impacts of cannabis farms on the environment and water resources in particular, yet data on cultivation practices and water use patterns have been limited,” the authors of the study wrote, and added, “The current study uses data reported by enrollees in California’s North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Cannabis Program to model how variation in cultivation practices and the use of stored water affect the timing and amount of water extracted from the environment.”
Van Butsic and Ted Grantham, co-directors of the Cannabis Research Center and adjunct fellows at the