Feds May Cut Off Water For Legal Marijuana Crops

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  Feds May Cut Off Water For Legal Marijuana Crops

Posted by CN Staff on May 19, 2014 at 06:50:43 PT
By Matt Ferner and Mollie Reilly 
Source: Huffington Post  

Colorado and Washington State -- Some cannabis growers may soon find themselves with a lot less irrigation water if the U.S. government decides to block the use of federal water for state-legal marijuana cultivation.The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees management of federal water resources, "is evaluating how the Controlled Substances Act applies in the context of Reclamation project water being used to facilitate marijuana-related activities,” said Peter Soeth, a spokesman for the bureau. He said the evaluation was begun "at the request of various water districts in the West."
Local water districts in Washington state and Colorado, where recreational marijuana is now legal, contract with federal water projects for supplies. Officials from some of those water districts said they assume the feds are going to turn off the spigots for marijuana growers.“Certainly every indication we are hearing is that their policy will be that federal water supplies cannot be used to grow marijuana,” said Brian Werner at Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which handles approximately one-third of all water for northeastern Colorado and is the Bureau of Reclamation's second-largest user in the number of irrigated acres.Washington state’s Roza Irrigation District, which supplies federal water to approximately 72,000 acres in Yakima and Benton counties, has already issued a “precautionary message” to water customers that may be involved in state-legal cannabis growing.“Local irrigation districts operating federal irrigation projects have recently been advised that under Federal Reclamation Law, it is likely project water cannot be delivered and utilized for purposes that are illegal under federal law,” wrote Roza district manager Scott Revell in letters to the Yakima and Benton county commissioners. “Presumably growing marijuana would fall into this category.”Both Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana for medical use more than a decade ago. Pot remains illegal under federal law. Reclamation’s Soeth said that the issue of cutting off water supplies for marijuana has never come up before.A Department of Justice official told HuffPost it has no comment on the water issue. The Bureau of Reclamation is likely to announce a decision this month. “We’re going to work with our water districts once that decision is made,” Soeth said.Marijuana advocates condemned the possibility of a federal water ban for state-legal crops. Mason Tvert, communications director for Marijuana Policy Project and key backer of Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use in Colorado, criticized the hypocrisy of a federal government that would prevent water access to some legal businesses and not others.“If water is so precious and scarce that it can’t be used for state-legal marijuana cultivation, it shouldn’t be used for brewing and distilling more harmful intoxicating substances like beer and liquor,” Tvert said.The impact on Washington may be more severe, since the state’s marijuana laws allow for outdoor growing and, according to McClatchy, the Bureau of Reclamation controls the water supply of about two-thirds of the state’s irrigated land. In Colorado, marijuana businesses can only grow indoors.Indoor growing in Denver, home to the majority of Colorado marijuana dispensaries, likely wouldn't notice a shortage if the Bureau of Reclamation cuts off federal water.“Because we are not a federal contractor, we would not be affected,” said Travis Thompson, spokesman for Denver Water, the main water authority for the state’s capital and surrounding suburbs.But many other regions of the state rely on federal water. In Pueblo, about two hours south of Denver, about 20 percent of regional water is Reclamation-controlled. Although the remaining 80 percent of the region's water is locally controlled, it passes through the Pueblo Dam, operated under Bureau of Reclamation authority."Yes, they come through a federal facility, but the federal facility is required to let those water right to pass," Pueblo Board of Water Works executive director Terry Book said to southern Colorado’s NBC-affiliate KOAA.The St. Charles Mesa Water District, another Pueblo-area water facility, has already imposed a moratorium on supplying water to marijuana businesses until the Bureau of Reclamation settles the issue.The Bureau of Reclamation said its facilities deliver water to 1.25 million acres of land in Colorado and 1.2 million acres in Washington state. About 1.6 million acre-feet of water is delivered to Colorado’s agricultural sector from Reclamation and about 5 million acre-feet is delivered to agriculture in Washington.As McClatchy reported last month that there are several viable alternatives to using federal water. Small-scale marijuana-growing operations may be able to use city-controlled water sources, or drill a well. Greenhouse growers are allowed to use up to 5,000 gallons of well water per day under state law. Any use beyond that requires a permit from the state. While some marijuana plants can require an average of six gallons of water per day, growing operations in the state are likely to fall well within that limit.However, in areas of the state where much of the water is controlled by Bureau of Reclamation contracts, these alternatives aren't as accessible.The potential water ban has already set off local opposition. The Seattle Times' editorial board urged the Bureau of Reclamation to allow federal water contracts to be used by marijuana farmers."The bureau has never had -- nor should it have -- a stake in what crop is planted. That’s a basic tenet of the 1902 National Reclamation Act, which created the bureau and transformed the arid American west," read the May 4 editorial. "Yet the federal government is now threatening to forget that history, because some regulators are queasy about Washington and Colorado’s experimentation with marijuana legalization."As the Times' board points out, there is some precedent for the Justice Department to stand down on the water issue. Last August, Attorney General Eric Holder told the governors of Washington and Colorado that the DOJ wouldn't intervene in the states' legal pot programs. And earlier this year, federal officials issued guidelines expanding access to financial services for legal marijuana businesses, so long as the business doesn't violate certain legal priorities outlinedby the Justice Department."While we appreciate how the Obama administration has made some administrative concessions to the majority of voters who support legalization by issuing banking guidelines and having the Justice Department largely stand out of the way of state implementation, this water issue highlights the urgent need to actually change federal law," Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, told The Huffington Post. "There are bills pending in Congress that would solve this and other state-federal marijuana policy discrepancies, but so far the support from elected officials doesn't even come close to matching the support from the public. I expect that gap will shrink with each passing election cycle as politicians start to see just how popular this issue is with voters."Source: Huffington Post (NY)Author: Matt Ferner and Mollie ReillyPublished: May 19, 2014Copyright: 2014, LLC Contact: scoop huffingtonpost.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 

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Comment #15 posted by afterburner on May 22, 2014 at 09:12:27 PT
OT: NIDA Strike$ Again
Big Pharma Profits From Addiction.
May 14, 2014
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #14 posted by Hope on May 22, 2014 at 08:20:31 PT
Afterburner Comment 13
Oh my gosh.Hell will be raised.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #13 posted by afterburner on May 21, 2014 at 15:51:27 PT
Water Prohibition Update
AlterNet / By Cliff Weathers. 
U.S. Blocks Legal Marijuana Growers From Using Federal Irrigation Water.
Feds will not allow government water to be used for the growing of a Schedule I controlled substance.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #12 posted by Hope on May 21, 2014 at 15:46:15 PT
That reminds me. I wonder how many tickets they've given out with that air sampling sniffer device Denver, I think it was, bought for big bucks to mechanically "smell" if a cannabist was, somehow, stinking up the neighborhood. 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #11 posted by Swazi-x on May 20, 2014 at 14:44:46 PT
Stall Tactic
This is just petty. What next - Weights and Measures chiming in on how inaccurate consumer scales are when weighing weed?How about the EPA issuing an emergency notice warning of toxic air pollution from skunk weed grows?One word - fill in the blanks:
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #10 posted by FoM on May 20, 2014 at 10:54:24 PT
We Are Support By
DrugSense, and its largest endeavor, the Media Awareness Project (MAP), combine to form a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit organization.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #9 posted by FoM on May 20, 2014 at 10:46:34 PT

Welcome to Cnews. I don't think you noticed that we aren't allowed to advertise on I will have to remove your post and I hope you understand.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #7 posted by FoM on May 20, 2014 at 04:55:12 PT

The links work for me.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #6 posted by Hope on May 19, 2014 at 23:05:36 PT

You are very kind, FoM.
Maybe this link will work. Doesn't look like it did in my comment.The Central Valley Project
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #5 posted by FoM on May 19, 2014 at 18:29:14 PT

You are really smart. Thank you.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #4 posted by Hope on May 19, 2014 at 17:18:08 PT

Weird water.
We the People... so they say, empowered our Federal government, many decades ago, back when progressive people were all about "Subduing the Earth", to cause that water to have been diverted from somewhere else. This was all about the time that we, the people, through the Federal government, also, passed out huge government contracts and caused many, many jobs to happen. Big time. Maybe it wasn't "We the People" so much, as government reps that wanted jobs and factories and money spent... on peace... this time... instead of war. We, the People, thought it was a pretty good idea. And it was. To a degree. Perhaps not drain the swamps and irrigate deserts. Another one of the Federal Water and Reclamation projects was "reclaiming" the Everglades. The infamous Everglades Project. Mankind was, apparently, performing miracles. Cities stood were once there were only swamps. Vineyards grew in the desert. Mighty dams were built. Lakes were created. Rivers were diverted. There was water in the desert.Central Valley Project the Federal government does have legal spigot control because of that. They caused it. Some of it anyway.Looks like we, the people, are going to have to insist on Federal level change of unjust laws.Good grief. It's so odd how some people still retain the mindset that people should be punished for cannabis use, or for any herb or powder that people want to consume, for that matter. But especially for cannabis use. I just don't understand how some people can still rail and rail against it. How can they punish people for it and think it's right? It's insane.Once you realize the truth of the matter, you wonder how it could take this long... and be this difficult, to get people to see the error of supporting cannabis prohibition.

[ Post Comment ]


Comment #3 posted by FoM on May 19, 2014 at 14:02:36 PT

If they stopped fracking the water would be saved in large volumes.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #2 posted by schmeff on May 19, 2014 at 09:15:12 PT

I Guess We Have a NEW Controlled Substance
Water.What's next? Will the Government claim ownership of the air? Maybe the own-it-all, control-it-all, collect-it-all, sniff-it-all, exploit-it-all, know-it-all, over-reaching, tyrannical criminal oligarchy will cut off the air to people who's politics it doesn't like. Kind of like the way Israel controls the flow of water to the Palestinian territories, don't you think?
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #1 posted by FoM on May 19, 2014 at 06:53:25 PT

Will they also cut off water to vineyards? I know wine isn't a controlled substance but marijuana shouldn't be either.
[ Post Comment ]

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