Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cannabis: An Environmental Disaster of Lettuce Proportions

By David Downs
Tue, May 18, 2010 at 2:31 PM

Cannabis has gone so mainstream, its effects on the environment have become a political and media issue. So how about some context, please? Any environmentalist will tell you modern factory farming makes growing illegal pot look clean.

Tons of pesticides and herbicides from California's Central Valley go straight into our waterways, along with dangerous loads of nitrate-rich fertilizer. They sicken the planet and they sicken us. Factory farming is a legal, weapon of mass destruction exacerbated by every trip to the grocery store. Yet that context hasn't warranted a mention in a new round of breathless "pot is bad for the environment" stories circulating.

The latest comes from the Ukiah Daily Journal, which reports this week that the Medocino County Grand Jury estimates illegal diversions of water to cannabis farms totals about 3.6 million gallons per day, or about 11 acre feet:

“The illegal growers clear-cut trees, dam streams, terrace slopes which causes erosion and watershed pollution, and left local authorities to clean it all up.”

Not a good thing, but hmm, where have I heard of that type of activity before? Oh, yeah: Big Agriculture. Pesticides in your food might be giving your kid ADD. Wal-Mart is a big fan of dumping toxic waste for others to clean up. Nitrates from fertilizer is destroying the Central Valley. And clear-cutting? We've been doing so much of that it's old news. And damming streams? Ha. We've terraformed the planet with dams so big they change the rotation of the Earth.

So, if you want to talk about pot's effect on the environment, let's talk. Growing modern produce is dirty. It could and should be cleaner. But it wasn't smelly hippies celebrating on the Deep Water Horizon days before one of the greatest ecological disaster of our lifetime. Tread lightly, folks.

[Via MMJ News]

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