Salmonid Restoration Federation

Cannabis and the Environment


CDFW Cannabis Program

California Cannabis Portal-Department of Cannabis Control

State Water Boards Cannabis Cultivation

Cannabis Cultivation Waste Discharge Regulatory Program. North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board 

Watershed Best Management Practices for Cannabis Growers and other Rural Gardeners. Mendocino Resource Conservation District. 2016

Scientific Literature

Dillis, C., V. Butsic, P. Georgakakos, E. Portugal, and T. Grantham. 2023. Water Demands of Permitted and Unpermitted Cannabis Cultivation in Northern California. Environmental Research Communication. DOI 10.1088/2515-7620/acb6d5.

Parker-Shames, P., C. Choi, V Butsic, D. Green, B. Barry, K. Moriarty, T. Levi, J. Brashares. 2021. The Spatial Overlap of Small-Scale Cannabis Farms with Aquatic and Terrestrial Biodiversity. Conservation Science and Practice.

Baker, Ange. 2020. Cannabis Special Issue 2020. California Fish and Wildlife Journal.

Zipper, S., J.K. Carah, C. Dillis, T. Gleeson, B. Kerr, M. Rohde, J. Howard, J.K.H. Zimmerman. 2019. Cannabis and Residential Groundwater Pumping Impacts on Streamflow and Ecosystems in Northern California. Environmental Research Communications. DOI 10.1088/2515-7620/ab534d.

Pre-Legalization (2016)

Barringer, F. 2013. “Marijuana crops in California threaten forests and wildlife.” New York Times, 20 June 2013.

Bauer, S., J. Olson, A. Cockrill, M. van Hattem, L. Miller, M. Tauzer, and G. Leppig. 2015. Impacts of Surface Water Diversions for Marijuana Cultivation on Aquatic Habitat in Four Northwestern California Watersheds. PLoS ONE 10:e0120016. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120016.

Bland, A. 2014. “California’s pot farms could leave salmon runs truly smoked.” NPR, The Salt, 13 January 2014.

Burns, R. 2012. “Downy calls for backup: Overwhelmed by marijuana the county sheriff looks to the feds for help.” 26 July 2012.

Butsic, V. and J.C. Brenner. 2016. Cannabis (Cannabis Sativa or C. Indica) Agriculture and the Environment: A Systematic, Spatially-Explicit Survey and Potential Impacts. Environmental Research Letters 11:044023. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/044023.

Caldwell, A. A. and M. Valdes. 2010. “Public lands sprouting marijuana farms.” San Francisco Gate, 14 March 2010.

“Cannabis farming in California using so much water it could wipe out salmon population, biologists warn.” The Independent, 5 October 2014.

Carah, J.K., J.K. Howard, S.E. Thompson, S. Gianotti, A. G, S.D. Bauer, S.M. Carlson, D.N. Dralle, M.W. Gabriel, L.L. Hulette, B.J. Johnson, C.A. Knight, S.J. Kupferberg, S.L. Martin, R.L. Naylor, and M.E. Power. 2015. High Time for Conservation: Adding the Environment to the Debate on Marijuana Liberalization. BioScience 65:822–829. doi: 10.1093/biosci/biv083.

Environ challenges marijuana ag in age of prohibition:

Gabriel, M. W., L. W. Woods, et al. 2012. Anticoagulant rodenticides on our public and community lands: Spatial distribution of exposure and poisoning of a rare forest carnivore. PLoS ONE, Vol. 7, Issue 7, e40163.

Gerken, T. 2012 “Cannabis carbon footprint: Marijuana industry’s environmental impact.” Huffington Post, 27 August 2012.

Greenson, T. 2012. “Push for pot regulation; amid federal activity, many still support oversight, regulation of pot industry.” The Times Standard, 9 September 2012.

Greenson, T. “A ‘huge, huge mess;’ officials talk environmental impacts of marijuana, and the need for more study, clean up.” The Times Standard, 9 September, 2012.

Greenson, T. 2013. “‘We can’t turn a blind eye anymore;’ feds, local law enforcement promise ‘hot and heavy’ season of pot busts.” The Times Standard, 26 August 2013.

“Half-baked idea?: Legalizing marijuana will help the environment.” Scientific American, 20 May 2011.

Harkinson, J. 2013. “How industrial pot growers ravage the land: A Google Earth tour.” Mother Jones, 6 February 2013.

How Changing Marijuana Laws May Affect California’s Water and Wildlife:

M. Mallery. 2010. Marijuana national forests: Encroachment on California public lands for cannabis cultivation. Berkeley Undergraduate Journal, Vol. 23, Issue 2.

Patterson, Brittany. 2015. "California's 50,000 Pot Farms Are Sucking Rivers Dry." Scientific American, 3 July 2015.

Welsh, J. 2011. “Pot growers destroying national forests.” Live Science, 12 December 2011.