Quartz: Government's Anti-Marijuana Policy Is Destroying California's Water Supply

Thursday, 13 Feb 2014 01:53 PM

By John Morgan

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The federal government is causing illegal pot producers to destroy Northern California’s water supply, according to Quartz.

Because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, California state and local regulators are not able to set environmental standards for its cultivation the way they do with grapes, timber and other crops.

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“As a result, growers enjoy unregulated use of water, and the resulting easy profits have helped attract operations that are increasingly industrial in scale and run by growers who are unrepentant about sucking the (land) dry,” Quartz concluded.

Its illegal status means the price of cannabis stays inflated, and its growers do not have to pay taxes, rights to water or land use fees, which helps drive profits even more, Quartz said.

Dale Geiringer, an economist at California Norml, estimates the farm value of marijuana grown in the state is between $2.5 billion and $5 billion annually.

Quartz estimated a single plant of marijuana needs about six gallons of water daily, and that industrial-scale growers are using between 12,000 and 30,000 gallons daily each in the state.

To make matters worse, the dry summer months in drought-stricken California happen also to be the peak of the April-to-October pot-growing season.

“Unethical growers irrigate by damming streams and using diesel pumps to suck water to their sites. They also tend to pump runoff fouled with dangerous fertilizers and pesticides back into the water supply.”

Scott Bauer, a biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said marijuana cultivation has the potential to “completely dewater and dry up streams in the areas where (cannabis farmers are) growing pretty extensively.”

According to Quartz, the federal government’s efforts to eradicate marijuana mean many growers stay in the shadows in California.

The federal government’s stance may partially be affected by the fact that if it cut back on its eradication enforcement efforts, the funding for agencies like the DEA might be cut, Quartz said.

CBS Moneywatch
said insurance companies are now offering policies to cannabis growers, manufacturers and dispensaries in the states where the plant is legal, which now totals 15 states for medical use.

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