Intent to Cultivate Deadline, Part II

bindles of seeds (1 of 1)

Packets of marijuana seeds.

Yesterday, a small post from us intended to inform readers of a free service offered by local business people to assist growers in dealing with the looming Intent to Cultivate form deadline blew into a tiny tornado behind the scene.

Some insisted there was no looming deadline. Others insisted there was.

Here’s our attempt to break this down.

First, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board very clearly states on their website the following message:

 Growing cannabis? By February 15, 2016 cultivators with 2000 square feet or more of cultivated area are required to enroll in a new water quality regulatory program (Order R1-2015-0023), either directly with the Regional Water Board, or via an approved third party program.

That seems fairly clear. If you want to cultivate medical marijuana legally, you must sign up, right?

However, attorney Mark Harris* pointed out, “There is no penalty for non-compliance.” Speaking as a parent and a teacher, that means effectively there is no deadline. If I tell students that a paper is due Wednesday but, if they never turn it in, there is no penalty, guess how many papers I’m going to get–I’m guessing very, very few.

So, I called our local Waterboard to sort this out. I spoke to a very patient Senior Engineer with the agency, Diana Henrioulle. She said, “There are penalties” for non-enrollment.

She told me that once the February 15th deadline is passed the agency will be “engaging in enrollment enforcement.” She says, the agency could use “aerial imagery enforcement,” and may do their own aerial imagery in order to compare enrolled parcels with cultivation sites. In addition, they might use other methods including but not limited to neighbor complaints and on the ground contact with other government agencies.

However, when I asked for specifics about what kind of penalties would be assessed, her response wasn’t clear cut. She talked about “enforcement discretion” and “options.” If someone voluntarily comes in and enrolls past the enrollment date, there didn’t seem to be any penalties. However, if a non-enrolled cultivator is discovered by the agency, Henrioulle said that they would be told to enroll by a certain date and fix any violations or then they could be assessed fines–perhaps $1000 per day but she didn’t limit it.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to enroll as soon as possible,” she said. “[If you do,] you are ahead of the game and you are not going to be subject to enforcement….Our bottom line is keep the dirt out of the water…Fix the roads you’re sharing.”

Attorney Mark Harris agrees, “Get it done soon. Don’t wait until you get caught.”

Attorney Ed Denson offers this additional information on this Saturday’s workshop:

I got a phone call this evening from Adona White, a local person working for the North Coast Regional Water Board. She heard me on the KMUD news and volunteered to come to the workshop, bringing enrollment packages, and, best of all, a well worked out rap about how to tell which tier you are in (an essential fact you need to know to file the Intent to Cultivate). I have been talking with people and fielding emails and Facebook messages. A lot of confusion is caused by the fact that you need to get permits or licenses from more than one government agency.

1. If you are using water, you need a permit (or clearance) from Fish and Wildlife.
2. If you are using water and might pollute other water with sediment or chemicals (like fertilizers or pesticides) you need a Waiver permit from the North Coast Regional Water Board – and that’s what the workshop is about because there is a deadline [of February 15] for filing the first form to start the process; the Intent to Cultivate form.
3. You will need a local permit from the city or county in which you cultivate. Deadline for filing in Humboldt is end of July.
4 In 2017 you will need a state permit. In 2016 you can cultivate without it.
5. In 2016 the medical marijuana laws still apply, All commercial cultivation must be by and for patients with 215s, and done on a non-profit basis.

It looks like the workshop may be popular, so people should come a little early.  It is at the Solar Suites building, in the atrium, at 12:30 Saturday afternoon. Sean Knight will be doing the computer work, and we can provide the forms, help you fill them out, and then scan and file them for you by email. Ms White will explain the technical detail, and I will be available for some legal consultations (in private) for those who would like them.

I don’ t know if it will be fun for the whole family, but I think we can help people do what they need to do to start getting legal.

Note: Please be aware Mark Harris is an advertiser on my site and my attorney (Don’t ask about the horrible time I had to go to court and not disclose what a source had told me!)




  • Great job at clarifying Kym. Here is a burning question I have: Supposively one of the big perks associated with enrolling through an approved third party certifier, vs a qualified professional, is that the identity of the enrollee remains anonymous to the water board folks. If this is true, how then will the water board avoid implementing enforcement on those individuals enrolled anonymously?

    • Great question. I’d like to hear more about this also. Interesting point.

    • I believe it will be based on Assessor’s Parcel Numbers, not the cultivator’s name.

    • As I understand it, its sort-of-anonymous. If you enroll with a 3-rd party, the NOI is kept on file with the 3rd-party, not the water board. When reporting is required it is submitted via a unique identification number. If they have started an enforcement action however, the water board will know who it is. If they sent a letter to a landowner to Enroll, and they do by the date requested, then the loop is closed and the NOI will still remain anonymous. That said, they cant completely guarantee anonymity in cases where a subpoena is filed, or some other lawsuit-court order using the public records act.

      Apparently if they are auditing a watershed, they will contact all third parties and ask to site visit those sites. If they are performing and enforcement action, it is a public, normal process.

  • Great question, Hollie! I am as eager as you are to learn the answer to your question. I am curious to see if any government official will give an answer “for the record” as well as their consent to be quoted publically. Along the same line, will a “green dot on the map” showing environmental compliance end up being a “red beacon” indicating unlawful activity, thereby making it much easier for law enforcement to locate ‘illegal’ grows?

    • Yes. Moreover the form is an actual written admittance of guilt. I’m in Mendocino County and I can imagine the county just sending out a bill for the crime because yes, filing the form would be admitting to some felonies right off the bat, and include premeditation to commit the felony. Don’t forget you are definitely admitting to committing felonies under federal law. So I’m also concerned that the water board wants us to hurry up and file before we have a good chance to sort out our exposure! Why the rush without full information?

      • Intending to cultivate is not a crime, even where cultivation is.

        • Thanks, Ed. I am thinking of federal law where conspiracy charges are often pursued. I was not aware that CA does not have these conspiracy laws. Still, if I filed a paper saying I intended on growing, then the grow was busted… I would expect to get convicted pretty easily! And while this scenario might not apply in Humboldt I would be concerned down in Mendocino or any other county than Humboldt!

  • So if you have a garden less than 2000 Sq ft do you still have to sign up? ,so if you fertilize your lawn it’s no good ,and God forbid watering it I have my own well on my property next thing u know we will have to register washing or clothes washing dishes taking a shower I think im ok with not signing up

    • Don’t let the realities of water supply interfere with your childish, self-centered behavior. Im sure you’re well magically produces water and doesnt draw from underground aquifers that we all share.

      • Don’t forget we all are either a hot dog or the bun. Mogtx’s logic.

      • That is a fallacious assumption, do you even know what an aquifer is? A well generally draws from the water table of the watershed you are above, an aquifer is like a large abscess of water in the earth. Water tables rise and fall with the associated water levels in the well adjusting with it, here our water is drawn right from the mad river water table at the riverside near blue lake. You can not drink that river dry or alter the level of the water table at sea level. Not even possible. Once you contaminate the water with phosphates and nitrates then its going to be bad to just put it back in the waste water to sea route. You have to capture and process the water in some way to bring the levels of elements within normal ranges which are considered safe to outflow. However this is all nothing in comparison to what our own waste water systems dump in to the marshes and rivers so your dumb kids can eat and shit. I would rather feed the dumb kids to the plants.

    • Gardens under 2000 square feet of cultivation area, where there is little chance of pollution of water through discharges of chemicals or sediment are exempt from the Water Board order

  • Yea, ganja has always been the peoples herb, and plant medicine in general.. Tobacco, one of the most sacred plants, was raped long ago.. Now we see pot going through the same thing. Can’t people see the problem with our over regulating oligarical systems? I mean,did anybody hear Bonnie BlackBerry make Estelle fennel out to be what she really is? And all people at all levels of politics? Phony half wits that really shouldn’t be making decisions for us. Like, let’s spend some money and effort on our meth problems and mental health issues instead of all this nonsense dripple about pot! Go get stoned and then do something. Help a neighbor. Give money to charity. Shit, get a job in town and pay income tax. Lay low and enjoy life yall..

    • Ya mahn, cool mahn!

    • I just heard Bonnie Blackberry’s show on this (KMUD archive, 7pm, Wed Feb 3) and I hope everyone up there can take an hour “out” to hear it, too.
      I heard of no benefit to anyone but the bureaucrats and their machines. Really. af

  • But wait isn’t growing over your legal limit and outside your legal space perameters illegal still? So long story short the state is ok with you braking the law they just want to get some money out of the deal. Wouldn’t that make them accessory to breaking the law if they’re inspecting over 2000 square feet and not reporting it to authorities?

    • You nailed it. Notice that’s it’s still illegal to grow for your own recreational use, only commercial cultivation is being overlooked, because $$$$.

    • They are the authorities, law doesn’t apply to them, law exist to put you in a position of usury and slavery. Worry about your self, your own problems, not my plants.

  • Quoting this article. “2. If you are using water and might pollute other water with sediment or chemicals (like fertilizers or pesticides) you need a Waiver permit from the North coast Water Board”.
    Now does this mean, that if you have one of these waiver permits, it’s ok if you pollute the watersheds. If so, this appears to be very hypocritical. Back up 15 years or so ago and imagine the timber industry trying to get waivers when it came to silt in the rivers and polluting streams. Why does it seam that the timber industry (that provided so many jobs here) went though much much more scrutiny and hounding by the environmentalist groups when it came to protecting the environment and the destruction that logging may have caused. Yet the environmentalist crowds have become silent when it comes to damage to the environment that many grows have caused. So Please, what does this actually mean? Again I quote number 2″ If you are using water and might pollute other water with sediment or chemicals (like fertilizers or pesticides) you need a Waiver permit from the North Coast Regional Water Board – and that’s what the workshop is about because there is a deadline [of February15] for filing the first form to start the process; the Intent to Cultivate form. So Please, what does that actually or really mean ?

    • “Now does this mean, that if you have one of these waiver permits, it’s ok if you pollute the watersheds.”

      No, it means that if there is a potential for harm (which there generally is), complying with the WDRs should effectively mitigate such harm. The WDRs will require a plan to clean-up, restore, and treat problem areas on a parcel. It will also require the long term maintenance and monitoring of these features. Remember, its not just contaminants from direct water use, its also sediment – so roads, flats, soil, etc…

    • The timber industry didn’t grow the trees.

  • Well water/ trucked in water

    Is this only if you are taking water out of creeks/rivers?

    • This is about discharge. The simple version is that the Dept of Fish and Wildlife is concerned with the water draws and the Waterboard is concerned with what happens to the water afterwards.

      • If Claifornia State Water Board is the agency who over-sees water rights and usage and they’re not enforcing any regulation other than existing laws..
        How is Fish and Wildlife overseeing a resource that the do not control?
        This is very confusing and sounds illegal.
        (I understand the difference between Regional water board and State)
        State law says all groundwater and springs that do not feed a outlet is the land owners right and is unregulated.

        • Thank you! I see this move by the regional water board as an attempt to gain control of our own water on our own land. This is an issue much more important than cannabis. I am a supporter of maintaining ecosystem health and protecting native fish species but this is a governmental overreach. I cannot submit to this on that ground alone and I’m concerned that many more people are not upset and openly resisting! What happened to our community of strong-willed independents?

          • The community is lining up at the Bernie soup kitchen.

          • It’s just Agenda 21 implementation inching along… Nothing to worry about.

          • Department of Fish and Game controls all waterways in the state of California. The water board permits the use of water in California. Fish and Game would enforce if the permit was not on record in the Water Board office.

            You do not own the water that runs through your land, you only own the rights to use it if so designated in deed. Unless you are a land patent, qualify under the homestead act, have had water rights deeded prior 1914 or it starts and ends on your property. All waterways in the United States are public property. Every stream in the country is considered a right of way. A stream considered by merriam-webster is a body of running water (as a river or brook) flowing on the earth; also : any body of flowing fluid (as water or gas)

            The cannabis water permit is for gardens over 2000 square feet. Growing or not if you are drawing water from a spring or creek you still need to have a permit unless spring terminates on your property. Its free.

            • Thanks for clarification! My water begins and ends on my property. My well and my spring do not lead to streams, they are not marked on topo maps as blue or broken blue. So I don’t think I “need” to register w/ either Water Board or Fish and Game. True? The way this is being presented makes it sound like everybody using any water needs to register. But people with water sources like mine are not required. Correct?? (I’m okay with people drawing from the creeks and rivers being required to register! The greed almost killed the fish in that last drought!)

              • You don’t need to get a waiver permit from the Water Board if you are cultivating an area under 2000 square feet and there is little danger of discharges into streams or groundwater.

          • You don’t own your water every citizen of ca owns it

        • They are trying to stuff some of this oversight under the hat of fish and wildlife because they have armed enforcers who already don’t need warrants to come on to your land…. look in to it really, then also look in to the fact that an internal hiring policy exist that places a lot of highly trained combat vets ( they are all maybe not to be trusted with guns in positions of stress ) in those jobs. This is all a bad bad thing.

      • So are you referring to surface water or ground water?
        This should be clarified.
        Many many people use ground water and or rain water collection.

  • John near Dinsmore

    I work in the storm water field and with the regional boards so hope this helps:

    Big picture is that as growing becomes more legal and more widespread the agencies are finally having to step in to protect water quality due to politics and the fact that growers are having a more and more detrimental effect on the environment (illegal hillside grading, water diversion, fertilizer/rodenticide pollution). Until only a few years ago CDFW (fish & game) and RWQCB (water board) staff generally refused to investigate grow related water quality issues due to safety concerns such as armed growers. Now that growing is getting all legitimate it will be regulated more closely (if there is money to be made your water board wants some too!).

    The new RWQCB permit is similar in many ways to the construction storm water permit – you “voluntarily” provide some info on location and what you are doing, pay a fee, and agree to implement best management practices protecting water quality. This accomplishes several things 1)another revenue stream for the water board, 2)the permit demonstrates that the water board is “doing something” to protect the water quality, 3)if everyone actually follows the recommendation and applies the best management practices the theory is that the water board is doing its job as demonstrated by all the permits and all the compliance resulting in good water quality ta-da done!, 4) If you have the permit and have non-compliance issues the water board is obligated to first warn you and help you come into compliance before fines are applied – the same non-compliance situation without having the permit generally leads directly to fines.

    Water sourced from a spring that does not directly connect to a stream or true rain water collection (like from a roof, not diverting from a creek during winter flow) is generally not regulated. All other water sources require a permit of some kind (well permit, stream diversion permit etc…).

    CDFW regulates water to make sure there is water flow for the fish and critters (think Eel river last summer compared to summer flow in the 80’s), and that there is nothing altering the existing flow or configuration of water courses. They have jurisdiction over watercourses from top of bank on one side to top of bank on the other side plus any adjacent riparian growth.

    Water board regulates water quality. Their definition of water pollution is anything other than pure water – not kidding here – so ANYTHING you put in water and discharge to the environment is technically pollution. They have jurisdiction over any watercourse between the ocean and the uppermost little bit of that watercourse at the top of the mountain that looks maybe like just a ditch AND anything adjacent that could potentially pollute said watercourse. Keyword here: potentially – say they find rat poison or engine oil spilled on the ground uphill and a few hundred feet from a creek. That is a violation situation due to the potential for said spill to get in the creek and the burden is on you to prove no pollution actually occurred.

    What to do? For both agencies diverting water is going to be a big deal so don’t steal water from creeks etc…. For CDFW grow associated poisons and creek blockage will be the biggest deal so use water you have rights to, be responsible with poisons, and don’t molest creeks rigging up some crossing or pond. For water boards illegal grading leading to erosion will be a big deal so maintain driveways and be responsible when grading – don’t let your dirt get away. Help others in your watershed keep the water clean – if the agency stops by and finds clean water, no pollution, no garbage they are going to move along no matter how big the grow is.

    Being sarcastic a tad: LE could prolly find your grow on GoogleEarth faster than this permit, and the water board really only wants your money. If you asked at a meeting and got an honest answer the water board would likely tell you they don’t have staff to inspect all the permitted grows in the first place.

    • What about the GMO crop farmers that existed for years in the central valley and got government subsidies to grow chemicals fertilized shit and dump waste back in to the ground all day long…. No one gave Dole shit.

  • For clarity:

    DFW has jurisdiction over water diversions from streams, springs and lakes. They govern how you take water, such as how much you can take from a particular source and at what times of year (to protect the critical period for Salmon for example). They also regulate any modifications to a stream channel. e.g. culvert installations or in-stream fishery restoration structures.

    WQ Water Rights Division has jurisdiction over how water is stored and used. They track where when and how much diversion is occurring, and regulate the use and storage of water.

    WQRCB governs this new Enrollment Program. Under their regulation, they have the authority to prevent negative and adverse effects to water by eliminating and preventing sediment sources and chemical contamination.

    All of these sets of regulation have some overlap, though they accomplish separate goals. Goals mandated by the people of California.

    And yes, currently ground water is not regulated. So you do not need a diversion permit from DFW or a Registration with Water Rights with a well. If you are cultivating and your sole source of water is a well, you would still need to enroll if the WB if you are over 2,000 ft2.

    • I have heard this is not true. The fees are for discharge. If you have no waterways on your property then you are not discharging. Even if you have over 2000 Sq ft you are not required to enroll in the program. They have been very miss leading making people think that all grows must register, it is only property’s with blue line waterways in them that are actively discharging. The water board needs to be more transparent about those who don’t need to follow this order instead of using fear to trick everyone into giving them money.

      • You are correct, its just that there are very very few properties that do not have watercourses in Humboldt County. If you dont, and have a legal watersource your stoked!

  • I apologize if I missed this. Do I have to sign up if I grow 25 plants?

    • What matters is the size of the cultivation area. But…I have not clarified to my satisfaction what constitutes cultivation area yet.

      • The county has defined it as the measurement of greenhouses and hoops. The measurement of the growing container (boxes, bags, buckets) plus the overhang of the plant growth, So basically measure the structures and/or the canopy size. I have no clue what the state guidelines are going to be.

      • Cultivation area is the discrete area around plants. e.g. greenhouse dimensions. If its pots, it would be the perimeter of the area with the pots (…not as an efficient use of space). Since most people will be tier 2, it wont really matter much in terms of the order unless you are right on the line between tier 1 and 2.

  • I have been working on my water quality registration for months with small farmers association and a forester.Every time I try to talk to neighbors or friends they think Im nuts.
    [ Its not if its when ],you will register or they will be imposing fines and have said they can put liens on property and also take land as intoment domain .the water board on the radio and in person have said these things .they have said they have many tools available to them. Its a new growing world we live in now. even many grow shops thought I was Crazy. Oh ya fish and game will also be a big part of this and they will be going over your property thoroughly better get your mess cleaned up pigs

    I told you so

  • Oh dont get me wrong Im not Happy about big brother getting up in my shit.I dont want to go legal. these are new laws that like it or not we are going to have to abide by.people are going to have to deal with water quality board and the water rights board weather they like it or not.If you are deverting water from any stream look out it can take around a year to get a water permit if they grant you one at all.then fish an wildlife also has to issue a stream diversion permit also and you cant draw after may first better get some tanks oh guess what you need a permit for tanks too.

  • Lost Croat Outburst

    How about an address for “The Solar Suites”and atrium? Might improve the turn-out.

  • There’s another option for complying with the Regional Water Board’s regulatory program…

    “Tier 1 and 2 dischargers have the option to enroll, participate, and comply with Order No.R1-2015-0023 through an approved, third party program. In contrast to a consultant, the intent for third party programs is to address the privacy concerns of individual dischargers, provide efficient administration of and verification of conformance with the Order, provide technical assistance, while also providing an added level of privacy for dischargers.”

  • stand up fight.this is a violation of article 1 sec 8 clause 17 or something like that….are these rule and regs or laws?.how do we know their testing is right.all the run off from the highways washing rainbow colors of oil and diesel leaks down to the river.ive seen it.we just pulled a huge diesel trailer out of the trinity with thousands of gals of fuel leaked out into the river.this happens all the time,people just don’t know about it.i went up and checked out where the forrest department sold a part of the forrest to be logged last year.they completely messed up the forrest and left a huge mess.isnt there toxins in left behind logging jobs,like toxins in bark or something.we need to take back our about clivenbundy and others standing up for our rights and winning against feds.feds should stay in DC.this is our land.

    • This is the cannabis industry learning that it will have to be the ones to clean up the legacy of rape and run that went on here all the way back to the gold mines and pits of poison you can still find in the woods if you know where to look. Nope once more natural humans are going to foot the bill for corporate vampires.

  • At A small farmers association meeting ,the Question of why cannabis farmers being the target of the California Water board ,was asked many times to the poor water quality guy.his answer was {Gov. brown has allocated money to go after cannabis cultivators ,so that’s what we are going to do} .We all realized that it did not matter about all other water quality issues in the state.Only Cannabis farmers

    talk about bias

  • seroiusly confused

    Seems to me that much confusion and fear of federal incrimination could have been avoided by taking the word cannabis out of the equation…..does this not apply for any form of cultivation? In other words does growing vegetable or whatever not have the same environmental impacts associated? Regarding cultivation area…say I have 5 sqrft but badly constructed roads dumping sediment roads in creeks ? I am exempt? Just doesn’t make a lot of sense when you compare the intent verses actions required?

    • Great idea!
      Can we make it illegal and cost prohibitive to grow food too!
      Maybe make sure the people who want to garden pay for all the services in an area they use any of, I wonder if Safeway pays to fight gardens next.

  • So, if one does not sign up by the 15th, notices will be sent out with a date that one has to enroll by and if that is not met, THEN the fines begin?
    What is the advantage of signing up before the 15th? The only advantage I see is that you have to pay to play, that is, pay the man, if you do not have any red flags, more than likely they will leave you alone until they deal with the real red flags, right?
    Is there any certified 3rd party go-between yet? If not, anything submitted to a gov. agency is in the public domain, thus any federal agency that does not recognize cannabis can go after you, IRS anyone?
    I want to help the water board out, but I do not see how they can protect us……
    So many questions that have not been clearly addressed here or even when talking to the water board themselves.

  • Because these regs also affect other types of small farmers, I do hope everyone is paying attention & not just the mmj growers.
    With that said, it’s nice to see they are using the pre existing area zoning. Ag, commercial, residential, resort, taken into consideration. Unfortunately, they seem to be creating an oasis for the lands that are prepped by Mother Nature & blessed with great top soil, while damming those who grow in pots, raised beds, and any mountain terrain whatsoever. This, is hypocritical, at best. If it weren’t for the rich top soils of the mountains being deposited into the bottom lands, the bottom lands would not be so rich. If it weren’t for the natural fertilizers from domestic livestock as well as wildlife, the bottom lands wouldn’t be so rich. Yet, the powers that be want to dam the mountain life & promote, incentivize, the flat landers.
    I doubt very many citizens will jump on board until after the powers that be loose their propaganda angles & return the laws to the people.
    Just a thought, but to be fair & equal, in this strange new world of “for the common good”, shouldn’t the bottom feeders return that rich top soil to the mountain folk who lost it in the last huge storms throughout the century?

  • You should see all the oil pollution That goes in the Eel River from the run off that occur s from harry hardon auto desmantel yard across from Eel river disposal oh but he is not cultivating ,so I guess if you pay off somebody enough to look the other way ,but the amount of pollution that goes unchecked is stager ING ,and this is something the epa should look into it ,but it’s ok oil antifreeze gas freon from a/c compressors in cars hydrolic fluid leaks directly to the ground this wrecking yrd right next to the Eel river now put that in your pipe and smoke it

  • you can anonymously report polluters to water Quality Board

  • The Deadline: According to the NCRWQCB Staff, the deadline is so they can start enforcement. The program is run by their enforcement team leaders. They have to have a date to be able to enforce. Enforcement for you, if you are not allowing discharge into a creek, is a letter of non-compliance through non-enrollment. If you are on their list of suspected cannabis cultivation on your property, you will receive a letter giving you 30 days to get into compliance through enrollment in the program. If you are not enrolled within thirty days, the NCRWQCB can fine you up to $1,000 per day after that 30th day. A wee bit excessive I would imagine a court would find.

  • Does anyone know anybody that has had the water board or a third party evaluate their land?

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