Illegal Marijuana Cultivation Pollutes Our Forests and Creeks

Published on July 1st, 2009 | by

For some reason, there seems to be a correlation between environmentalists and the legalization of marijuana, although Obama will not likely make it happen. Perhaps one reason for this correlation is the potential negative effect on our forests from illegal cultivation. From diesel spills to chemical fertilizers, the illegal cultivation of marijuana is polluting our forests and creeks.

Image by jasonawhiteIllegal cultivation of marijuana sometimes pollutes forests and creeks
Illegal cultivation of marijuana sometimes pollutes forests and creeks

Not all marijuana gardeners are polluters, as many grow organically and are responsible; however, the news often reports about the pollution caused by cultivation when busts occur. A recent eradication effort on BLM land in Mendocino County, California is being cleaned by the California Conservation Corps. In addition to a large amount of garbage including pipe and black plastic, the CCC found chemical fertilizers. The Ukiah Daily Journal reports:

In addition to Miracle Grow, the purveyors of the grow camps hauled in bags of copper sulfate that would have been applied, Sharpe believes, to prevent mold and mildew on the plants…When water samples were taken from Standley Creek and tested during a regularly planned test, high levels of sulfates were showing up in the water, Sharpe said. A normal amount of sulfate is considered to be .5 milligrams per liter. According to data, Sharpe said that Sheldon Creek tested at 5.3 milligrams per liter. Hull Creek, also on BLM land, tested at 23 milligrams per liter.

Last year, 1000 gallons of diesel fuel was spilled into Hacker Creek in Humboldt County, California from an indoor grow operation. The diesel was used to run a generator in a remote region of the county. The North Coast Journal describes the environmental devastation and clean up efforts:

As the spill oozed into this lovely area, a greasy film asphyxiated any still water. Diesel smell permeated the creek bed. Though no frogs or salamanders were found dead in the area, many insects were. “Invertebrates are dying,” pointed out Larry Lancaster, Hazmat inspector for the county, at the time. “That means the food supply [for amphibians, etc.] is being diminished.”

In an effort to save the area, a contractor specializing in diesel cleanup rushed to the scene. Within days, three semi-trucks full of absorbent pads navigated the twisting narrow dirt passage, miles from the end of the county road…They removed fuel tanks, tore down a structure, laid absorbent materials, cut roads with cats and dug up soil. They quickly recovered about 300 gallons of the spilled fuel, but it took almost two months to complete the cleanup to the satisfaction of an inspector.

Could legalization solve these pollution problems associated with marijuana cultivation?


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6 comments

  • “Would legalization solve these pollution problems associated with marijuana cultivation?”

    Absolutely! Why haul generators, copper sulfate or even seeds out into the forest if you could legally do the same in your back yard? The expense of cleaning up (or even locating) illegal grow operations disappears if you remove the “illegal” part of the equation.

    While I don’t know if there’s any truth to it, some grows have worse pollution – in the form of booby traps. Beware the unsuspecting hiker who gets a spike in the shin for accidentally venturing too close to a patch of pot.

  • Im sorry, but a 1000 gallon diesel spill has nothing to do with growing marijuana. Diesel is most definitely not a necessary to cultivate pot. One random guy using oil to run a generator and spilling it is completely irrelevant. By that logic, any person who uses a generator in an RV is a huge source of pollution. Also, chemical fertilizers are probably less necessary for pot than most plants. It’s called weed for a reason. It grows anywhere.

    Also… Weed is an awesome source for biofuels, paper, and textiles. We could save trees and make cheap acid free paper from a crop that renews itself every year.

  • If marijuana was legal, it would be easy for agencies -EPA- to place environmental regulations, forcing marijuana growers to abide by said environmental standards. If you can’t remove the symptoms, you must remove the cause; in this case by making marijuana legal we would simply be removing the cause for these environmental issues, Of course this would not entirely solve the problem, but I would expect marijuana farmers to be held responsible in abiding the same regulations as any other farmer. Marijuana enthusiasts are not asking for an advantage over other Americans, instead they are looking for the same rights as every other American.

  • I went to alex layko’s link, and it;s the most ridiculous thing i have ever read. For one thing, pot is not the leaf on a pot plant it’s the bud. And don’t quote pieces of the bible, research properly or look like a fool;. Try gen. 1:12,13 God created pot for us to utilize in all ways, including getn closer to him. U must rant about ALL liver destroying meds too. FDA has so many horrible meds and I bet you take something!!! So don’t knock it until you know. Do you have a disease that gov. meds don’t help? Are you in agony or sick, and pots the only relief? shut it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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