Van Butsic
Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist and Adjunct Professor
UC Berkeley Environmental Science, Policy, & Management
portrait photograph
Van Butsic studies the geographic spread of cannabis agriculture using remote sensing techniques and econometric modeling.


photograph of a circular lined pond, full of water, on a forested slope


Dillis, C., Butsic, V., Georgakakos, P., Portugal, E., Grantham, T.

Environmental Research Communications

Water use on unpermitted farms varies by watershed. With scenario modeling, we project the impacts of compliance with water extraction and off-stream storage.


Polson, M., Bodwitch, H., Biber, E., Butsic, V., Grantham, T.

Land Use Policy

There are many barriers to participation in California's regulated cannabis industry. Is there a way to achieve environmental objectives, farmer compliance, and an equitable transition away from illegal markets?


Polson, M., Butsic, V., Dillis, C., de Genova, H., Grantham, T., Herrera, L.R., Hossack, J., Laudati, A., Martin, J.V., Parker-Shames, P., Petersen-Rockney, M., Sorgen, J., Starrs, G.

This report presents multiple pathways for consideration by state and local governments in their efforts to improve cannabis cultivation policy.

photograph of a charred cannabis farm after a wildfire


Dillis, C., Butsic, V., Moanga, D., Parker-Shames, P., Wartenberg, A., Grantham, T.


Where should we grow? Explore the vulnerability of California's cannabis agriculture to wildfire.

Photo of poisonous baits, an example of how cannabis production impacts the environment.


Wartenberg, A. C., Holden, P. A., Bodwitch, H., Parker-Shames, P., Novotny, T., Harmon, T. C., & Butsic, V.

Environmental Science & Technology Letters

Explore environmental impacts of cannabis production and how evidence-based policy can reduce harms.

Photograph of irrigation infrastructure on a cannabis farm. Includes storage tanks, pipes and fertilizer


Dillis, C., Butsic, V., Carah, J., Zipper, S.C. and Grantham, T.

Environmental Research Communications

Well water irrigates California’s top-producing cannabis farming regions. Why? What are the impacts?

Photo of cannabis plants in an indoor farm greenhouse being cut by an inspector due to non-compliance with regulation.


Bodwitch, H., Polson , M., Biber, E., Hickey, G. M., Butsic, V.

Journal of Rural Studies

Despite legalization, illicit cannabis production continues in California. Surveys reveal that small farmers face outsized burdens to compliance.


Parker-Shames, P., Choi, C., Butsic, V. , Green, D., Barry, B., Moriarty, K. , Levi, T., Brashares, J. S.

The Society for Conservation Biology

What are ecological impacts of cannabis legalization? To find out, we mapped the first season of legal cannabis farms in Josephine County, southern Oregon.

outdoor grow within hillside forest


Dillis, C., Biber, E., Bodwitch, H., Butsic, V., Carah, J., Parker-Shames, P., Polson, M. and Grantham, T.

Land Use Policy

How has legalization shaped patterns of farm location, size, land ownership, and regulatory compliance in California?

Photo of Klamath River and forested hills where cannabis cultivation can impact water flows


Dillis, C., McIntee, C., Butsic, V., Le, L. Grady, K., & Grantham, T.

Journal of Environmental Management

What cultivation practices help cannabis farmers store enough water to eliminate surface water diversions during California’s dry growing season?

Photograph of a small farm with rows of vegetables, such as lettuce, mixed with cannabis plants.


Schwab, B., Wartenberg, A. & Butsic, V.

California Agriculture

Are California’s cannabis regulations leading to industry consolidation and larger farms?

Aerial image of a cannabis grow operation with outdoor plots, greenhouses and infrastructure within a forested area.


Valachovic, Y., Quinn-Davidson, L., Stackhouse, J. and Butsic, V.

California Agriculture

What are the impacts of cannabis legalization on traditional rural livelihoods?

Macro-scale photograph of cannabis plant with webs of spider mites, a common pest.


Wilson, H., Bodwitch, H., Carah, J., Daane, K., Getz C., Grantham, T. E., & Butsic, V.

California Agriculture

Cannabis legalization opens opportunities to study and share best practices. Our survey of growers reveals starting points.

Satellite image of recently expanded cannabis farm into forests and meadows.


Butsic, V., Carah, J., Baumann, M., Stephens, C. & Brenner, J.C.

Environmental Research Letters

How does California’s rapid expansion of cannabis agriculture into "frontiers" of sensitive habitat compare to regulatory investments? What does this portend for global cannabis frontiers?

Photograph of a worker hauling long, coiled lines of plastic irrigation pipe and bags of waste out of a partially cleared conifer forest.


Wang, I.J., Brenner, J.C. and Butsic, V.

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

A booming cannabis industry expands agriculture into forest habitat. Science offers methods to understand impacts and shape policy.

A watercolor painting with imprints of cannabis leaves over green and purple patches.


Butsic, V., Schwab, B., Baumann, M. & Brenner, J.C.

Ecological Economics

What factors influence the location and size of cannabis cultivation sites?

satellite photo of grow sites and roads encroaching into forests and fragmenting the landscape


Butsic, V. & Brenner, J.C.

Environmental Research Letters

Spatial patterns of cannabis grow sites reveal environmental impacts of an expanding industry.