The New Pot Growth Industry

by Mark Scaramella, June 28, 2017

We happened on an April presentation by a young State Water Board staffer named Jeff Parks in Willits. Parks was rapping, one might say in the lingo of the Summer of Love, to a rapt group of potential commericial pot growers. When the subject of permit application fees came up Parks said, "I know people are very concerned about the fees for all these programs. I know there are fees on top of fees on top of fees. There will be additional fees associated with this program (the “CalCannabis” section of the Water Board staff). We don’t know what they are yet. They will be subject to public review when they do come up.”

Here’s just a small sample of what the Water Board requires of a would be legal pot grower:

“If you are planning to obtain a California Department of Food and Agriculture Cannabis Cultivation (CalCannabis) License beginning on January 1, 2018, you must provide documentation of your water supply source with your cultivation license application. Certain water diversion types require completion and submittal of special forms to the State Water Resource Control Board (State Water Board) by June 30, 2017. Some water right types, including Small Irrigation Use Registrations and existing Water Right Permits and Licenses do not require addition.

In accordance with the Business and Professions Code Section 19332.2 (b), CalCannabis requires cultivators to provide documentation to the State Water Board - Division of Water Rights by June 30, 2017 for the following situations:

If water is already being diverted under a riparian water right claim. An Initial Statement of Diversion and Use must be on file with the Division of Water Rights.

Pending application to appropriate water.

Water is planned to be diverted and used under a riparian right and no diversion occurred in any calendar year between January 1, 2010 and January 1, 2017; Form 19332.2 (b)(5).

The water diversion is from a spring that does NOT flow off the property on which it is located. The aggregate diversions from this person do not exceed 25 acre-feet in any year; Form 19332.2 (b)(4).

A notice is on file with the State Water Board for the recordation of groundwater extractions and diversion of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties; Form 19332.2 (b)(4).

A diversion is regulated by a Watermaster appointed by the Department of Water Resources and included in annual reports filed with a court or the State Water Board by a Watermaster, which reports identify the persons who divert water and describe the general purposes and the place, the use, and the quantity of water that has been diverted from each source; Form 19332.2 (b)(4).

A diversion is included in annual reports filed with the court or State Water Board by a Watermaster appointed by a court or filed pursuant to statute to administer a final judgment determining rights to water, for which reports identify the persons who have diverted water and give the general place of use and the quantity that has been diverted from each source. Form 19332.2 (b)(4).

If you are unsure which category your water source belongs, or need further assistance, please visit our Cannabis webpage or contact Division of Water Rights staff at 916/341-5300 or at our website.

(The application must be accompanied by checks to cover all applicable fees per a complicated fee schedule chart.)

Adios Mom and Pop Grower. The big boys of cannabis will pay someone to negotiate this preposterous bureaucratic labyrinth, Mom and Pop won't be able to.

The Water Board presentation was just a small segement of the two hour workshop in Willits, which also included bureaucrats and staffers from Fish & Wildlife (who covered such things as “armored culverts” and engineering requirements for pond construction), the Regional Water Quality Control Board, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (whose rep was an attractive young blonde with the requisite upflect speaking style of contempo young women).

The Food & Ag Babe (whose name was unintelligible due to the poor audio quality) described the “collaborative effort” of all the involved state agencies. In addition to the two water boards, Fish & Wildlife, and Food & Ag, other state agencies you can expect to see at your door include: Pesticide regulation, The Department of Justice, Cal-OSHA, the “Department of Technology,” the state Treasurer, Board of Equalization, the Medical Board of California, the Governor’s Office, plus county rules, city rules, plus physicians, patients, caregivers, and perhaps, if you're lucky, the Ghost of Janis Joplin.

OH, and did we mention this is a “competitive” market?

The Food & Ag "presenter" also told the group that they needed to familiarize themselves with their new “Compliance Handbook” which will “detail how to complete each application requirement,” and “will address additional laws that apply to licensed cultivators.”

There was no mention of the feds. Most of the presenters appeared to be in their 20s and 30s.

Unbelievably, each presenter got a round of applause after each presentation as if they were doing the pot growers a favor by telling them how burdensome their particular agency’s rules are.

Clearly, legalized pot has created a new growth industry in state bureaucrats, many of them recent college grads who couldn't possibly be unfamiliar with the joys of the miracle drug. Among the collateral damage of this growth industry is that pot regulation expansion has created a demand for trained, regulatory bureaucrats from a somewhat limited pool of candidates; so a bidding war has begun, which not only raises the costs to staff all of this regulation, but creates high staff turnover, confusion, inexperienced but overpaid young people in positions they are new to.

And this doesn’t even include the third-party site evaluators, water consultants, engineers, private planning outfits, etc. who also draw from the same young candidate pool.

This little noticed problem, in just one recent example, is a major factor in creating the staffing problem in Mendo’s Planning and Building Department, which the Mendo Grand Jury pointed out in yesterday’s report. County staff is leaving for better jobs in the booming regulation market.

Local planning and code compliance backlogs are only going to get worse. And enforcement? Where are all those people going to come from?

One Response to The New Pot Growth Industry

  1. izzy Reply

    June 29, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Mom & Pop, Inc.

    As systemic failure looms for our way of life in the Land of the Once Free, financialization, in it’s myriad forms, replaces truly productive activity. Nowhere is this more apparent than in government, where the rules are created. If there is money to be milked, that is where the effort and attention will go.

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