What to do about Toxic Illegal Cannabis Grows?
A recent headline has been making its rounds on major news outlets that goes something like this, “Illegal Marijuana Farms Dump Shocking Amounts of Toxic Waste”. The story revolves around illegal cannabis farms located on Federal and Private lands that have been polluting the surrounding areas to a degree that is harming people and wildlife.
According to Mourad Gabriel, an ecologist with the Integral Ecology Research Center in northwest California the problem is much worse than anticipated. He stated that these illegal sites contain “731,000 pounds solid fertilizer, 491,000 ounces of concentrated liquid fertilizer and 200,000 ounces of toxic pesticides.” Apparently, the amount of waste was enough to send a few people to the hospital for skin rashes and respiratory difficulties.
Additionally, he claims that the ‘cleanup’ of this waste is also not being done thoroughly saying that at many of the sites roughly half of the waste is still there. Local wildlife also coming into contact with the waste have seen some hazardous consequences and this could very well only be the beginning of the issue. Water usage is also a concern with these illegal grows as they consume double of what is required to grow wine grapes.
When you read stories like this, it’s not hard to imagine why some people are so adamant at keeping cannabis illegal. However, perhaps we need to reanalyze this story a bit further and see if we can uncover the root of the problem.
Why All the Illegal Pot Farms if Cannabis is Legal in California?
The first thing we need to understand is the ‘why’ behind these illegal pot farms, especially since cannabis is legal in California. Getting weed in California is as easy as walking into a store and buying it, or even simpler…getting it via your phone.
So why are there so many illegal grows?
For starters, according to an Oxford Academic Study, California supplies 60%-70% of all the cannabis in the United States according to some estimates. If we even go conservative and claim that California supplies 50% of the US weed, that number is still quite high.
This is especially important when we look at prices per pound in prohibition States. Currently a pound of good reefer in New York can set you back $2500 easily according to Budzu.com. In California, the price is substantially lower, especially surrounding the Emerald Triangle where most of the illegal pot farming is being conducted.
As we apply some simple economics, we understand that the demand in prohibition states are higher than in legal states giving incentive to folks to grow illegal weed for profit. Many of these illegal grows are sponsored by Cartels in Mexico that were cut out of the export business upon the legalization of cannabis. They merely shifted their production to a more profitable location.
Most of the illegal weed being grown in California isn’t destined for California because CA citizens can get it easily and in most cases way cheaper.
How to Solve the Illegal Pot Farm Problem
Now that we established that most of the illegal grows are meant for out-of-state commerce, we can start tackling the problem. The “solve” is quite easy. You have to let the market render the illegal pot farms unprofitable.
How do you do this?
Legalize it nationally on a Federal level and allow everyone to grow for personal use. This doesn’t mean that dispensaries will go out of business. Most people would not opt in to grow weed at home because of the time and energy it takes just like not everyone is brewing beer in their basements. The legal cannabis industry would not be adversely affected by allowing people to grow weed at home, however the illegal cannabis industry would suffer greatly.
The principle is simple:
Reduce the value of the exported crop by outsourcing production to each individual who would like to grow for personal use. Eventually, the cost of operation of illegal grows would outweigh the profits generated from it and in turn would decrease the amount of production on public lands. This in turn would reduce the amount of pesticides being used, the cost of law enforcement having to scout the surrounding areas for illegal grows and benefit the environment as a result.
Of course, some people would say, “We can’t allow everyone to grow weed at home, what about the children?”
Well, it’s not illegal to craft beer at home and we’re not seeing problems with children binge drinking themselves into alcohol induced comas are we? This isn’t to say that there won’t be any problems with this measure, some people are dicks and that’s just life.
However, overtime people will become accustomed to the idea of cannabis and adolescent interest will start to dwindle. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the average age of a drug addict in Portugal post the decriminalization of all drugs and tell me that I’m wrong. Of course, full legalization requires prevention and education programs…however, the effect on illegal grows post-legalization would be devastating.
Just something to think about.
OTHER STORIES YOU MAY ENJOY…
Published at Thu, 17 Aug 2017 05:00:00 +0000