The $7 billion legal marijuana industry has a big problem: water waste.
According to a recent report by Bioscience, "an estimated 22 liters of water or more per [marijuana] plant per day are applied during the June-October outdoor growing season."
When you multiply that by the average outdoor marijuana planting density of 130,000 plants per square kilometer, you arrive at roughly 430 million liters of water per square kilometer of marijuana crop.
That's 1.4 acre-feet of water per acre of crop, or roughly twice the amount of water it takes to grow an acre of grape vines - no small amount of water.
But there's a flipside...
"When grown responsibly, cannabis uses significantly less water than some of California's other agricultural staples, such as almonds," said Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, to Leafly on July 20. "And [when grown responsibly] it offers a considerably higher profit margin," he added.
Authorities have taken notice of the problem and are now cracking down on cannabis growers' water use ahead of California's total legalization.
How will that affect California cannabis growers and companies? Let's take a look...
Where Does Your Water Come From?
In an effort to balance environmental issues with marijuana's projected $20.2 billion market, California is introducing a new batch of rules and regulations specific to marijuana growers' water use.
Starting in 2018, most cannabis growers in California will have to use recycled water. In Sonoma County, one of the largest cannabis-growing counties in the state, indoor growers will have to use 100% renewable energy.
In addition, regulators will now be permitted to restrict cannabis cultivation if they can prove it's causing environmental harm.
For some growers - particularly in California's agricultural epicenters like the Emerald Triangle - growing is about to become "particularly tricky," according to Allen. "Growers won't be able to plant where there's not enough water to support their crops - something that could spell disaster for cultivators who rely solely on water from watersheds."
Collect a Colossal Payday Thanks to California's Legal Cannabis - Click Here Now to Learn How to Position Yourself for Windfall Profits
Most cannabis companies will be forced to spend a pretty penny updating their systems for compliance. While rainwater is free, the cost of a rain catchment system could cost anywhere from $250,000 to $300,000 for just one farm, according to Leafly.
But one company already has water conservation methods in place - and you can invest in it.
In fact, we've been recommending this one since 2016 - and we're ramping up our recommendation in the new year. It's one of our favorite marijuana "pick-and-shovel" plays for 2018 as it's poised for a 15% sales surge over the next year.
And while other cannabis companies struggle, these new water laws may help it make even more money.