Laws and Regulations

This is an index of court decisions that CDFW has designated as precedential (Gov. Code §11425.60). A precedential decision is considered as authority for deciding subsequent cases involving identical or similar facts, or similar legal issues.

Fish and Game Code has several sections pertaining to cannabis.

  • Remediation (§ 12029). The Legislature found and declared that environmental impacts associated with cannabis cultivation have increased, and unlawful water diversions for cannabis irrigation have a detrimental effect on fish and wildlife and their habitat. This section establishes Watershed Enforcement Program to facilitate the investigation, enforcement and prosecution of these offenses. It also allows CDFW to adopt regulations to enhance fees on any entity subject to Section 1602 (Lake and Streambed Alteration) for cannabis cultivation sites that require remediation.
  • Additional penalties for violations (§12025(b)). There are additional penalties for violations of Fish and Game code sections 1602 (substantial diversions, obstructions, or use of stream), 5650 (water pollution), and/or 5652 (disposal of trash near a water body) in connection with the production or cultivation of a controlled substance (i.e., cannabis). The penalty may be up to $40,000 per violation when associated with a trespass cannabis grow on public or private land. The penalty may be up to $20,000 per violation when associated with a non-trespass cannabis grow (on land owned/leased/or used with permission by the owner), and each day a violation “occurs or continues to occur” constitutes a separate violation. CDFW may refer violators to the county district attorney or California Attorney General for criminal or civil action. Additionally, CDFW has the authority to impose civil penalties on those found to have violated Fish and Game Code sections 1602, 5650 and/or 5652 in connection with the production or cultivation of a controlled substance (i.e., cannabis) on public or private lands.

Learn more about the laws and regulations that shape the Lake and Streambed Alteration Program.

The Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA), creates the general framework for the regulation of commercial medicinal and adult-use cannabis in California.

  • Cannabis Cultivation Policy (PDF): establishes principles and guidelines (requirements) for the diversion and use of water, land disturbances, and the activities related to cannabis cultivation to protect water quantity and quality. The requirements help to minimize the effects of cannabis cultivation on fisheries, wildlife, and water quality, maintain healthy riparian corridors, and protect springs, wetlands, and aquatic habitat.
  • Cannabis Cultivation General Order: implements the Cannabis Policy requirements; specifically, those requirements that address waste discharges associated with cannabis cultivation activities.
  • Cannabis Small Irrigation Use Registration (Cannabis SIUR): All cannabis cultivators that plan to divert surface water need a water right to irrigate cannabis. The Cannabis SIUR is a streamlined option to obtain a small appropriative water right to divert and store water for commercial cannabis. On July 14, 2020, the Deputy Director for the Division of Water Rights approved a Resolution Revising General Conditions to be Applied to Small Irrigation Use Registrations for Cannabis Cultivation (PDF) that established updated general conditions for the Cannabis Small Irrigation Use Registration.
  • Annual Water Use Reporting Requirements for Water Right Holders: If you divert and use water from a surface water source such as a lake, creek, stream, or river, OR you divert water from a subterranean stream that flows in a known and definite channel, California law requires you to report your diversion and use to the State Water Board, Division of Water Rights.

Three state cannabis programs were merged to form a single new state department called the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). DCC now licenses and regulates all commercial cannabis activity in California. Their Laws and Regulations web page lists current regulations as well as pending rule making actions and previous cannabis regulations.