Pubdate: Mon, 28 Apr 2014
Source: News-Item, The (PA)
Copyright: 2014 The News Item
Author: Rob Hotakainen, Mcclatchy Washington Bureau
Page: 5


WASHINGTON - Newly licensed marijuana growers in Washington state may 
find themselves without a key source of water just as spring planting 
gets underway.

Federal officials say they'll decide quickly whether the U.S. 
government can provide water for the growers or whether doing so 
would violate the federal Controlled Substances Act, which makes 
possession of the drug illegal.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which controls the water supply for 
two-thirds of Washington state's irrigated land, is expected to make 
a decision by early May, and perhaps as soon as this week, said Dan 
DuBray, the agency's chief spokesman. The ruling will mark another 
key test for the Obama administration, which again will decide how 
far it will go in allowing the state to bypass federal law with its 
experimental plan to license growers and sell pot for recreational use.

The government's decision also will affect growers in Colorado - the 
only other state to fully legalize marijuana-but would likely have 
limited impact there because Colorado allows only indoor pot farms.

While the administration so far has done nothing to block either 
state, some local officials predict the Bureau of Reclamation is sure 
to rule that the water cannot be used on marijuana plants, since the 
drug has been banned by Congress.

"I'm almost certain that's what they're going to tell us," said Scott 
Revell, district manager for the Roza Irrigation District in 
Washington state, which contracts with the federal agency to provide 
water to roughly 72,000 acres in the Yakima Valley.

Such a decision would mark a clear victory for legalization 
opponents, but they say it should not be unexpected.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom