Office of the State Engineer Logo

Water Resource Allocation Program (WRAP)

Commercial Cannabis Growing Water Use FAQ's

The New Mexico Cannabis Regulation Act, defined in Sections 1 through 42 [26-2C-1 to 26-2C-42 NMSA 1978] was enacted on April 12, 2021, requiring that an applicant requesting to produce cannabis for sale to demonstrate the legal right to a commercial water supply, a valid water rights or another supply of water sufficient to meet the water needs as determined by the Regulation and Licensing Department. Proof must be evidenced by documentation from the office of the state engineer of a valid water right or a letter from a water provider stating that the use of water for cannabis production is compliant with that water providers rules.

Water Right Questions to ask Applicants (Cannabis Producers):

 Q: What is your proposed source of water for your Cannabis grow operation?
If the answer is Municipal water (i.e., City water such as the City of Albuquerque or Las Cruces or Santa Fe etc.) you don’t need to go to the OSE.  RLD/CCD will review and validate this source of water.

If your source is a privately owned Water Right, you will be instructed to go visit the Office of the State Engineer (OSE) to validate the water right and determine if the right is configured correctly for the proposed use and place of use etc.

Q: Is the proposed Water Right owned by you and is it recorded in your name?

-What are the Water Right file numbers?

-Where is the proposed Water Right located? (This question is geared toward which District Office they need to go visit.)

-Is the proposed Water Right located at the proposed grow location? (This question is geared toward the potential need to file an application to move the Water Right accordingly to the proper Place of Use.)

-Are you planning on using a Well or a Ditch/Acequia to irrigate/grow Cannabis?  (This question is geared to determine if they are planning on using Surface Water or Ground Water.)

-Are you planning on growing outside (open air) or indoor like in a building, hoophouse or greenhouse?  (This question is geared to determine if the water right is configured correctly, i.e., Commercial Use for indoor or Agriculture/Irrigation for outdoor/open air.)

-How much water in (acre-feet per annum) do you need for your Cannabis grow?  (This question is geared to determine if you have sufficient water for the amount of land and/or plants proposed to be cultivated.)

-Do you plan on “Hauling Water” either long term or short term for your Cannabis grow?
NOTE 1:  Long term Water Hauling is not recommended.  Short term may be approved to bridge the gap until your Water Right Application is processed.

NOTE 2:  If Cannabis grower is proposing “Short term” water hauling they will be required to get a letter from the Water Hauler verifying a valid Water Right in sufficient amounts and a contract for the amount of water required to grow the number of cannabis plants proposed and include the time period for the water hauling.

FINAL NOTE:  Water Rights must be in the applicant’s name, or they must have a lease or user agreement in place and provide copies to the OSE with their Water Rights Accession Form.  Incomplete forms or missing documents will delay the review process.  Appointments with the appropriate District Office are highly recommended to make certain that you have all the pertinent information to complete the Water Rights Accession Form for verification.  If you need a Water Right permit or to file a Change of Ownership, those actions must be accomplished before you submit the Water Rights Accession form to the OSE for verification.  If you intend to have water hauled or to haul water, you must provide documentation from that provider that they will serve you and the documentation should state what the source of water your chosen Water Hauler is using.  The Water Hauler must have legal access to that water as well.  Water Rights verification will happen as soon as practicable. Incomplete forms will be returned to you as timely as possible.

For more information on commercial cannabis growing water use in New Mexico, contact your local OSE Water Rights District Offices