The High Valley Farms 25,000 square foot greenhouse complex near Basalt. (Michael McLaughlin, The Aspen Times)

In Colorado Rockies, a question about water rights for growing marijuana

Can Colorado issue a water right to irrigate marijuana plants when federal law still says that growing pot is a crime?

That’s the question being asked by a division engineer and a water referee in Div. 5 water court in Glenwood Springs in response to a water rights application filed by High Valley Farms, LLC.

“Even though the cultivation of marijuana and the sale of marijuana is legal in the state of Colorado, because it is still not legal under federal law, this question is still out there — whether beneficial use includes any use that is not legal under federal law,” said Alan Martellaro, the division engineer in Div. 5.

Martellaro said a water right in Colorado can only be issued if the water is being put to a beneficial use, such as irrigation.

Read more about this report on water rights at

Water worries: Medical pot farms draining streams dry in drought-plagued Calif.

Year One of recreational marijuana: Get an inside look at one of Colorado’s biggest pot retailers, Medicine Man — the ambitions of the family behind it and the evolution of their business amid changing state regulations