The rush to legalize marijuana is largely driven by old-fashioned greed. Lawful medical and recreational use dominates public discussion, while related environmental catastrophe unfolds across America — widespread habitat and endangered wildlife destruction from illegal marijuana grow-sites.
California grows most American pot, hosting an army of illegal growers who wantonly abuse public lands and native fish and animals. One wildlife biologist describes illegal grow-sites as an “industrial-scale” problem.
Vast public lands set aside as wilderness areas are infested with large pot-growing operations. Some are run by Mexican drug cartels, others by domestic growers selling pot on the black market. Pristine cold-water streams and springs are tapped dry to water growing marijuana. Truckloads of black plastic tubing carry wild waters to grow-sites. Endangered coho salmon habitat suffers greatly.
Makeshift grower camps pollute mountains, valleys and forests. Marijuana grow-sites use tons of fertilizers, rodent poisons and highly toxic insecticides. The onslaught swamps forest and wildlife officers, destroying and poisoning habitats and many endangered species. Among them are spotted owls, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, Canada geese, mountain lions and bobcats.
One thinks that aircraft-borne, human and vehicle detection devices could spot and intercept teams of illegal growers. Sensors could be placed in wilderness-access trails to notify law enforcement of criminal activity. Earth-circling satellites might also spot the bad guys and allow their capture.
Then again, broad acceptance of marijuana in our progressive culture is a political reality that can’t be ignored. Many local, state and federal leaders are pro-marijuana, and receive pot-related money. Illegal marijuana grow-sites may be intentionally ignored, considered politically correct. Hundreds of millions of dollars in pot sales could be viewed as “socially just.”
The hands-off attitude toward this crisis of pro-environment and animal protection groups, and the press, simply amazes. They appear to gag on this issue. All should jump up and down in protest. What gives? Maybe pot supplies, and puffing away on a favorite weed, are more sacred than habitat and nature.
It looks like nothing will interfere with the national “high,” not even gross destruction of “the purple mountain majesty” and its natural inhabitants.
RICHARD MASELLA, BOYNTON BEACH