Did you know that 90% of the illegal marijuana farming that goes on the United States takes place in California? In fact, some California counties have THOUSANDS of unlawful pot farms.
Even more alarming, the pollution and ecological damage they are causing is far worse than anyone could have predicted. Thousands of acres of private, federal, and tribal lands are turning into toxic dumps. In fact, some of these areas are so hazardous that even touching a plant can send a person to the emergency room.
Pot Pollution Threatening the Environment
Mourad Gabriel, an ecologist tasked with documenting the problem for various state and federal agencies, including the Forest Service, says that much of the danger comes from illegal fertilizers and pesticides. Gabriel is considered the nation’s top expert on the subject of toxins at pot farms.
Among Gabriel’s findings:
- Carbofuran, an extremely-toxic pesticide banned on all plants used for human consumption. Carbofuran’s effects on human are similar to deadly nerve agent.
- Zinc phosphide, a rodenticide so poisonous that as little as 1 mg can kill a human.
- Because of illegal marijuana farms, California’s federal lands contain:
- Over 700,000 pounds of solid fertilizer
- Almost 500,000 ounces of concentrated fertilizer in liquid form
- 200,000 ounces of poisonous pesticides
- This is 80 times more pesticides and over 40 times more solid fertilizers that investigators from the Forest Service found as recently as 2013.
To put those numbers in perspective, they represent more chemicals than were spilled in West Virginia’s Elk River in 2014. And that ecological disaster left 300,000 people without potable water.
The Costs of Cleaning Up California
Toxic marijuana sites can cost up to $100,000 to restore. It is estimated that California’s marijuana “cleaning bill” will burden taxpayers with a $100 million bill. Right now, there are 639 abandoned illegal pot farms on a backlogged waiting list.
And here’s the thing – restoration efforts may not be entirely successful. In some sites that were “cleaned”, up to 50% of the toxic chemicals are still there.