While county residents mull over the looming water scarcity brought on by two years of drought, our water crisis intensifies with the rollout of commercial cannabis. Napa’s “9111 Report” states cannabis water demand per harvest is 6 times that of grapes. That fact, added to grape taint, overspray, odor and aesthetics, led Napa county to ban commercial cannabis. Why is Sonoma County so intent on fast-tracking permits, in spite of the obvious drawbacks?
Concerned residents are not alone in their worries. National Marine Fisheries Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and California Native Plant Society have all weighed in with additional standards required to address the impacts of opening 65,000 acres for outdoor and hoop house production with a ministerial permitting scheme. A 3/17/21 CDFW letter states “We recommend that the review should be discretionary, not ministerial.” State cannabis law set conditions that each project needs individual environmental analysis and cumulative study, both conditions impossible with ministerial permitting.
This is no time to issue permits with limited water analysis. Instead fix the discretionary permitting process and complete careful and adequate environmental studies to satisfy state law, concerned agencies and environmental organizations.
— Anna Ransome, Graton CA