Prop 64: Marijuana and the Environment

Last Tuesday, voters passed Proposition 64 – the measure to legalize recreational use of marijuana. One of the least known elements of this measure is funding to repair the damage from the illegal cultivation of marijuana and provide better on-going protection for California’s most important natural lands.

Prop 64 allocates significant funding to three key conservation priorities:
•  Restoring watersheds and habitat lands that have been damaged by marijuana                    cultivation.
•  Improved stewardship and operation of state parks and wildlife areas to prevent future damage from marijuana cultivation.
•  Enforcement of environmental laws on fish and wildlife habitat throughout the state.

Illegal cultivation of marijuana has resulted in pollution, unlawful diversion of water, and damage to important ecological areas and habitats. With Proposition 64, the state can begin to reverse this damage and prevent future impacts.

Funding for the Environment
Prop 64 establishes a tax on the sale and cultivation of marijuana with twenty percent (20%) of the revenue going to the Environmental Restoration and Protection Account. This fund is likely to exceed $200 million per year within a few years of implementation. The funds will be allocated to State Parks and the Department of Fish and Wildlife for direct expenditures and for grants by these departments.

CSG working with The Nature Conservancy and other environmental groups crafted the language to prioritize the restoration of past damage, improve stewardship of wildlife areas and state parks and enforce environmental laws statewide.

Initially, restoration of key habitats and watersheds damaged by past illegal cultivation will be a top priority, but over time an increasing amount of the funds can be dedicated to improving stewardship on California’s public lands, helping to address the long term funding shortages for state parks and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Environmental Regulation
Proposition 64 contains restrictions on pesticide use and funding to enforce regulations on water diversions that have harmful impacts on in-stream flows and wildlife.

It requires that licensees under the new regulatory structure prove that they are in compliance with:
•   California Environmental Quality Act
•   California Endangered Species Act
•   Lake or streambed alteration agreements
•   The Clean Water Act
•   Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act
•   Timber production zone requirements
•   Wastewater discharge permits
•   Any other permit or right necessary to divert water

Proposition 64 directs the multi-agency taskforce developed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Water Resources Control Board, to enforce these laws and regulations. It also expands the funds available to the taskforce.

Timeline for Implementation and Funding
The State has already started developing regulations to implement legislation related to medical marijuana cultivation. With the passage of Proposition 64, it is likely that the rulemaking and regulation development for both medicinal and recreational cannabis will be combined to provide a more unified enforcement structure. Proposition 64 requires regulations to be adopted and licenses for cultivation, distribution, and retail to be issued by January 1, 2018.

Given this timeline, revenues into the Environmental Account will be available starting in the 2018-2019 budget year, although next year’s budget will include the initial funding to implement the measure.

Conservation Strategy Group will closely monitor the development and implementation of the environmental provisions of Proposition 64 and the funding allocations, and can provide regular updates on this process as well as identify opportunities to participate in the key decisions.

For additional information and assistance on Proposition 64 implementation, contact Joe Caves ( or Alfredo Arredondo ( at 916-558-1516. To learn about other CSG projects and services check out To stay up to date on major policy issues in California, sign up for our Policy Blog emails here.

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