The war on drugs may be a noble intention, but the illegal growing of marijuana is destroying our environment and we need to step in.
Primarily run by Mexican drug cartels in the fields of California -- marijuana is the state's largest cash crop generating nearly $14 billion a year -- the marijuana growers aren't your typical peace-loving hippies of the 70s. Hundred KW generators, diesel storage tanks, ATV vehicles and large quantities of animal poison are just some of the things involved here.
Irrigation tubes that snake for a mile or more over forested ridges. Pesticides that have drained into creeks and entered the food chain, sickening wildlife. Piles of trash and human waste in the most rugged and bucolic drainages.
The presence of rats makes the situation worse. To protect the crops, the growers use poison pellets which the rats ingest. Once the body decomposes, the poison goes back into the soil. Vultures and other animals eating the rats can also be poisoned.
Each plant also uses about 15 gallons of water per day soaking up a large part of the water resources around.
This drug policy report indicates that the trouble goes beyond drug warriors with toxins.
The drug war's threat to the environmental is not limited to overzealous drug warriors armed with toxic herbicides. Organized crime groups who cash in on the drug war's distortion of supply and demand dynamics have little regard for the environment. In Andean nations, illicit cocaine producers dispose of chemical byproducts by pouring excess chemicals wherever it's convenient. The hazardous methamphetamine labs of the U.S. are reminiscent of the deadly exploding liquor stills that sprung up throughout the nation during alcohol prohibition. Even growers of organic marijuana impact the environment by felling trees in national forests to make room for illicit grow sites.
Most detractors are also the first to clarify that medical marijuana growers are actually some of the most responsible citizens around.
There is a ser-ious distinction to be made. Many medical [legal] marijuana growers are some of the most responsible citizens around. They buy soil in bulk, use rat traps instead of poison, water with timers and drip systems. They have very little physical impact on the land. I'm not up against legal growers. The ones I'm concerned with are the ones polluting the environment in the name of huge profits. The plants are seasonal, but the environmental damage lasts forever.
Outside of the obvious benefits of hemp -- can be used as a bio-diesel, burns cleanly, makes soil stronger, sturdier paper, etc. -- organic and sustainable practices for growing marijuana would bring in tons of revenue for the states, clear up the environment, and save the government $150 billion on policing and courts, since 47.5% of all drug arrests are marijuana-related.
While we're not promoting a drug addiction here, the benefits to the environment by making marijuana legal, definitely seem enough to take action.