This week, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors revised its water code to declare marijuana cultivation a form of water waste.
Citing a study from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, a single marijuana plant uses an average of six gallons of water per day during the growing cycle. Just last week, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department removed close to 1,000 marijuana plants from a grow.
According to the Board of Supervisors, those 1,000 plants needed about 6,000 gallons of water per day, which is equivalent to the daily water consumption of 30 households.
"Hopefully this brings more attention to the fact that the concerns about marijuana cultivation are as much environmental as they are criminal," said Ted Wolter, who is the chief of staff for Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan. "It's a huge use of water in a time where lawns are going brown and people are taking shorter showers, and we need water for important urban needs."
MacGlashen was the one who put the proposal in front of the Board, in light of the state's multi-year drought.
In Sacramento County, it is illegal to cultivate marijuana outside. However, you can grow the plants inside. But the limit is nine plants per household, and if you grow more than the nine plants or grow then outside, because of the new water ordinance, it's an additional $500 fine.
"Every dollar adds up," Wolter said. "Now you're talking about $500 for violating the cultivation ban, and another $500 for violating the water ban. Now you're up to $1,000 in fines per day."
Not everyone though is buying the alleged water use for marijuana plants.
"Ridiculous," said Lynette Davies, who is the director of Canna Care in Sacramento. "It's a weed. It doesn't take any more water than any other plant. There is not this huge water waste for this one particular plant. It doesn't happen."
Most cities within Sacramento County already have their own ordinances that allow cultivation of marijuana.
However, if you live in the unincorporated areas of the county this new water code does impact you.