(Source: Change.Org) Legalized marijuana has become a cause du jour of late, gaining steam In places like California and D.C. for its potential to ease the pain of the busted economy and skyrocketing imprisonment rates.
But what effect would it have on the environment?
In truth, growing pot as a large-scale cash crop is toxic to the ecosystem. Growers often cultivate the plant in national forests, where pesticides, waste, and irrigation tubes wreak havoc on the land and wildlife. As the U.S. Forest Service has stated, “They basically trash our public lands.”
But here’s the catch: This is largely happening because the drug is illegal. Marijuana growers are forced to work in discreet areas of national forests to hide their activity, and the lack of regulation leads to increased recklessness in the way the crop is grown. If pot were legal, growers would likely move to less sensitive growth areas and abide by the same standards as legal medicinal growers, who often buy soil in bulk, use rat traps instead of poison, and utilize drip systems to provide water.
Legalization would also curb the eco-effects of illegal smuggling across the border. Cartels routinely use generators, diesel storage tanks, and animal poison to preserve their cache, when the border area is surrounded by more than 4 million acres of sensitive federal wilderness.
Finally, it would stop the negative effects of the Drug War itself. According to the Drug Policy Alliance Network, some bureaucrats use dangerous herbicides to eradicate “ditch weed” with no commercial value simply because doing so boosts their statistics and makes them look tougher.
Of course, the best thing for the environment would be to simply be cease pot-growing altogether. But let’s be real: That’s never going to happen. In light of that, the next best bet is to make it legal.