Cannabis and the economy — at what future cost?

Posted on April 8, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun
This year our Sonoma County is, once again, heading into drought. We need to take a longer view when making choices that impact our collective resources.
This is why I am disappointed in our county’s new cannabis ordinance, which goes for a one-size-fits-all, let’s-make-it-easier approach. In fact, the revision does not make it easy for anyone. Growers’ needs are not adequately addressed. Residents seeking setback buffer zones of 1000 feet from their homes find their needs are not considered.
The main argument encouraging cannabis production is economic. We do need a strong local economy. But, what do we want that local economy to look like, and what types of agriculture can we rely on to support us? Our food shed bonds our county. What will happen to cropland values if they are based on the current 1.1 million dollars an acre that cannabis yields?
Perhaps it is time to do things in a new way, rather than allowing one type of agriculture to proliferate because it is profitable now. Maybe we didn’t need to flood the market with vineyards, and maybe we don’t need to do it now, with cannabis. We can’t afford a million gallons of water an acre for thirsty cannabis during a prolonged drought.
Let’s encourage our local government to do more intelligent planning around this important land-use issue. Let’s ensure everyone’s resilient future in Sonoma County!
— Veva Edelson, Bloomfield, Sonoma County 

5 thoughts on “Cannabis and the economy — at what future cost?

  1. I keep reading about the huge amount of water cannabis uses, much more that other crops. But, I have yet to find an actual study with good data. I found two on line, one that did not differentiate between legal and illegal growing and some analysis by cannabis growing groups of why it was flawed with their own data. Can anyone please, find a report using date only from legal growing that compares water usage to other crops? As we are all talking about legal farming, that will be permitted by the county, that is what we should be looking at.

    1. If you google “It’s too much cannabis in our county” and go to the Facts section there is a link to the Napa report.

  2. Josette,
    Regarding your question of any report that compares water usage to other crops: Legal Cannabis Cultivation’s Footprint Sinks Common Assumptions About Comparative Water Use: “…our estimates found that while the state’s orchards use nearly 7 million acre-feet of water, and rice fields use nearly 5 million acre-feet, the state’s lucrative cannabis industry only uses 3,000 acre-feet, making it the most water-economical crop among the state’s top revenue crops.”

  3. The recent data report of the Napa County Supervisors cites cannabis cultivation’s water demand estimates one acre of cannabis using 1.1 million gallons of water a year.

  4. And how does the water use of cultivation of cannabis compare to the water use of fracking for oil?
    Organically grown plants don’t require to pump the chemical-laden poison cocktail of fracking fluid into the ground water aquifer as practiced in SoCal with permission of the state… Fracking not only uses water but pollutes existing resources for future use.

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