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How Illegal Marijuana Farming Impacts the Environment

| 8/24/2018 10:50:00 AM


Photo by Matteo Paganelli

 It may be a while before the United States allows nationwide marijuana legalization, but more than half of states allow using the substance — with legislation dictating whether people in those places can utilize it medicinally, recreationally or both. And the locations where it’s legalized to some degree typically see significant economic boosts, often because of substantial taxes applied to cannabis sales. Arizona legalized medical marijuana in 2010 and earned $400 million in sales. Not surprisingly, California, a state that permits recreational and medical marijuana, received $2.75 billion from sales.

But even as states get such financial incentives from legalization, they must be mindful of the environmental impacts from illegal grow operations.

Illegal Grow Sites Generate Huge Amounts of Trash

As marijuana legalization becomes more prominent around the country, so do unlawful efforts from growers who want to profit by cultivating marijuana on unauthorized sections of property. More specifically, these growers typically focus on public lands — those that belong to all people but ultimately get ruined by the Earth-harming actions.

During the 2017 growing season in Colorado — which usually runs from early summer through autumn — federal and local law enforcement officials uncovered unauthorized cannabis growth operations on approximately 38 acres of public land in the state, and those statistics didn’t include the islands of the Colorado River.

10/15/2018 3:56:31 PM

Calm down Kelli.

9/4/2018 1:55:39 AM

I’d like to comment on the post from ‘Kelli’. The article isn’t negative about the legalization or use of marijuana. It stated a couple of times about the benefits. The author is simply is pointing out the misuse of public lands and toxic chemicals. I’ve been reading Mother Earth News for years. Maybe ‘Kelli’ has as well. The content of this article is inline with Mother Earth’s mission. Sustainable growing of many crops has been covered over the years. The fact that these growers are using these toxic chemical should worry us all. In addition to the wildlife being threatened, these toxins could be making their way into the consumers as well. I was unaware that this was taking place. I’m against the use of public lands for personal gain and especially the poisoning of the the creatures that call those lands home. I think we can all agree that the issue of water quality (and misuse) is important, be it our tap water (think of the victims in Detroit) or the misuse of these, also public-, waterways. Both the “diverting” of the water for the crops and the contamination of that water with these chemicals. As a regular user of cannabis (to control my anxiety and help me sleep) I’m glad Mother Earth News covered the issue. Good reporting.

9/3/2018 11:21:15 AM

To Kelli- I understand your negative reaction to this article, but it is not about marijuana being bad, it about the stealth growers using any means necessary to make a buck. The poisoning of wildlife to protect their crops is a deplorable practice. Not to mention the fact that their crop is now poisoned for the human consumer. MEN has actually run other articles about marijuana that were very positive. They also had a podcast about it. Don't cancel your membership quite yet.

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