Marijuana supporters are certainly pleased that several U.S. states have chosen to legalize marijuana in recent years, according tomedia. Marijuana is now legal in more states than ever before, and marijuana and related products are steadily moving toward early legalization. Now, however, some cannabis farmers are growing the plant on farms that are still illegal by invading public lands.
To make matters worse, unauthorized cannabis farms are causing the destruction of forested areas where many species once grow.
A new report from the Associated Press sheds light on the environmental impact of this trend of illicit cannabis cultivation. Despite the booming legal market for cannabis products, black-market cannabis is still a thriving industry, and farmers who grow it have taken it to public land sand to avoid legal action.
The problem is that the environmental damage to these illegal cultivation operations was already severe when the U.S. Forest Service discovered them. Law enforcement found that large areas of public forest had been cut down and replaced with plastic pipes and cannabis plants. Most importantly, illegal farmers use chemicals and fertilizers to treat their crops, which is devastating for wildlife.
Farmers who establish these illegal cultivation bases often divert natural water to their farms, affecting downstream areas. Chemicals used to keep potted plants healthy pollute the soil, and rainwater runoff spreads to surrounding forests. To eliminate rodents, farmers used chemical prohibitions that could kill them quickly. In a protected forest, wild animals may unknowingly roam to such a hidden farm and die.
It is understood that such illegal farms were found in California, and although there is already a framework for legalizing marijuana there, it is still a hot spot for illicit cultivation. In response, forestry officials said they would continue to hunt down the plantings by various means, including by air, to discover farms that were not supposed to exist.