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Marijuana growers are decimating California's ecosystem, killing fish, destroying forests and draining streams


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(NaturalNews) As California continues to bake in the throes of a historic, multi-year drought, concerns over the state's remaining water supplies have risen dramatically.

State and local officials have been working in tandem to create conservative programs that, thus far, are having a mostly positive effect. Overall, the programs have seen water use throughout California generally decreasing – in some places by more than 30 percent.

But despite these efforts, a great deal of water is still being wasted or, as others point out, utilized for unproductive purposes, such as growing marijuana.

As an editorial in the Fresno Bee noted, marijuana production has skyrocketed despite the drought, even to the point of causing irreversible environmental damage:

Acres of ancient trees are disappearing and illegal marijuana farms are popping up in their place. Streams and rivers are being sucked dry, diverted sometimes miles away through plastic pipes into tanks. Several species of fish, along with a rare breed of wild rodent, are on the verge of extinction.

The editorial notes that this is occurring all across the state but in particular it is taking place disproportionately in the North Coast region, as well as the state's National Parks in the San Joaquin Valley. "All of this environmental destruction is occurring to grow marijuana and meet consumer demand," it noted.

'Where's the outrage?'

The editorial board for the Fresno Bee acknowledged that there is "plenty of blame to go around" for the way things have turned out in the two decades ever since the state legalized medical marijuana. But, they wrote, "much of it must land at the feet of consumers, and of lawmakers."

Consumers of cannabis appear to be indifferent to the kind of environmental damage that marijuana cultivation is causing, they write. And there is no shortage of hypocrisy.

"We buy fair-trade coffee and free-range chickens. Where's the outrage about the environmental impact of marijuana?" the editors wondered.

Inaction by lawmakers has led to pot becoming an unregulated commodity that has spread like wildfire. And, in the midst of the historic drought, the editors noted, California will probably become the next state, behind Washington and Colorado, to make marijuana legal for recreational use (though it still remains against federal law – which may become a problem for the states if the next president wants his or her administration to begin enforcing that law once more). If legalization happens, "our state has the makings of an ecological disaster on its hands," said the editors.

"This was the sobering message that came through July 1 at a hearing of the state Senate's Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture," they wrote. "Official after official testified about the negative effects that illegal pot farming has had on the environment and in unfairly exacerbating the drought."

Pot or food?

The director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Charlton Bonham, discussed an "existential crisis" as he watches species of salmon dwindle to dangerously low numbers, the editorial noted.

And Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman, they added, has spoken of how, during a recent arrest near Island Mountain, he noticed that illegal pot growers have depleted the Eel River to a point where it is now full of moss. Allman estimated that growers needed about 500,000 gallons of receding water daily to support about 87,000 plants cops discovered.

Click here to search for "California water problems" on GoodGopher.com

"It's hard to ask everyone to cut their water and deal with water cuts when we're not dealing with this," noted Resources Secretary John Laird, who was quoted in the editorial.

What pot growers are doing to the environment in California sounds like, to a lot of people, the same thing commercial farming has done to the environment: over-farming the soil while dumping tons of pesticides into the land and surrounding bodies of water. The main difference is that the commercial mega-farms are perfectly legal, of course, and even subsidized with tax dollars, compliments of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Still, California voters and lawmakers are going to have to decide what they want more – to light up a joint or grow crops so they, and the rest of the nation, can eat.





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