A new proposal by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) that would pay farmers to leave fields unplanted in order to conserve water — a practice known as fallowing — excludes the state’s cannabis farmers, Marijuana Business Daily reports. Working with some of California’s largest water providers, the state is offering $268 million in funds to farmers who leave their fields empty this year.
The plan focuses on two critical Sierra Nevada watersheds in Northern California. The list of crops eligible for the funds includes water-intensive crops like rice, alfalfa, and nuts, and is part of the governor’s $2.9 billion water quality control plan, the report says.
Michael Katz, executive director of the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance, said it is an “unfortunate double standard” that some farmers “are deemed worthy” for state support, while cannabis farmers “are in a position where they have no ability to pause their operations and their tax burden without endangering their ability to remain in the licensed market.”
Spokesperson for the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) Maria Luisa Cesar said the “policies are in their preliminary stages of discussion and development.” Cesar added that the DCC “is committed to supporting the administration’s efforts to respond to California’s drought and will continue exploring policies that assist small farmers and recognize their responsible stewardship of the environment.”
The Origins Council, which represents nearly 900 small and independent cannabis businesses, has been asking the state and local governments for six months to enact regulations to help cannabis farmers through the extreme drought conditions. In a statement to MJBizDaily, the group’s Executive Director Genine Coleman said:
“To date, they have not committed to creating a fallowing policy. The state has an ethical obligation to support our cannabis farmers in being able to fallow during this unprecedented historic drought.”