Study: Legal Marijuana Farms Are Not a Drain on Water Resources

Berkeley, CA: Licensed outdoor marijuana farms in northern California do not put undue strain on limited water resources, according to data published in the Journal of Environmental Management

A team of researchers affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley and with the State of California, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board assessed irrigation patterns among licensed cannabis farms. 

Authors stated that cannabis farming isn’t “particularly thirsty relative to other crops.” They estimated that “legal outdoor [cannabis] production uses about the same amount of water as a crop like tomatoes” and about 33 times less water than almonds. 

The study’s findings run counter to previous claims that cannabis farming placed undue strain on the state’s limited water supply.

Because the University study only assessed water use among legally licensed farms, the authors cautioned that their findings may not be applicable to illicit growing practices. A prior study, published by New Frontier Data in partnership with the Resource Innovation Institute and the University of California, Berkeley similarly concluded that cannabis is among the most “water-economical” of California’s top revenue crops. 

Full text of the study, “Water storage and irrigation practices for cannabis drive seasonal patterns of water extraction and use in northern California,” appears in the Journal of Environmental Management.