Cannabis Destruction Shocks Lawmakers – March 1, 2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The cannabis industry’s care for the environment is exemplified by watershed destruction, massive energy consumption and illegal waste dumping like this. Some time over the weekend, an unknown grower dumped a mass of used soil and root balls on the roadside of the 14th Street entrance to Redwood Park. The culprit intentionally drove up into the Campbell Creek watershed to deposit the vermiculite and chemical-laden waste in a perfect spot to wash into the creek habitat. KLH | Eye

Daniel Mintz

Eye Correspondent

HUMBOLDT – The watershed impacts of marijuana growing were described as being highly destructive at a state hearing and legislators have vowed to take action.

The effects of marijuana cultivation on watersheds and fish were part of a Feb. 22 Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture Hearing in Sacramento. Committee Chairman Wes Chesbro paid heed to the North Coast’s cultural acceptance of marijuana but called attention to its worst aspects.

“This not an anti-marijuana discussion – this is about how to protect the environment from the irresponsible growing of marijuana,” he said.

The impacts are being seen statewide and John Baker, a state Department of Fish and Game enforcement officer, told committee members that he’s seen drastic impacts in the central valley from large-scale use of pesticides, fertilizer and water diversion.

Baker’s presentation mostly focused on grows in Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and national parks lands. Greg Giusti, a U.C. Extension forest advisor, related his experience in the North Coast region and said massive grading and earth-moving is being done on private property.

“These are not being purchased and moved around by the elusive ‘cartel,’ whoever that is,” he continued, showing a photo of grading and creek damming in Trinity County. “This excavation work and tractor work is being done by contractors throughout the North Coast.”

Giusti’s presentation also included a photo of an “illegal reservoir” supplying a large commercial-scale grow downstream.

Seeing it, Chesbro reacted strongly and told Giusti, “I have to say – that’s brazen, the scale of that is just astonishing.”

Scott Greacen of Friends of the Eel River said there’s been a “boom” in marijuana production since the legalization of medical marijuana and negative impacts compound the legacy effects of liquidation logging.

In the Eel River system, low flows intensify the effects of grow-related pollution and sedimentation from grading and road building. Water diversion and diesel contamination are also problems, Greacen continued, and he linked them to marijuana’s status as an illegal drug.

“The failed prohibition policy has given birth to some of the worst practices,” Greacen said, adding that “conscientious growers” and non-profits have shown that marijuana can be grown sustainably.

After the presentations, Chesbro said that legalizing and regulating marijuana production and gaining federal cooperation would help. But absent that, he said he wants to “continue to dialogue” with environmentalists, law enforcement and state and federal agencies on advocacy and “enforcement strategies.”

The outcome of the discussions will be new legislation, Chesbro said. “This is as much of a threat as forestland practices that are destructive to the environment and practices that lead to conversion of timberlands for development,” he added.

Committeemember Jared Huffman emphasized the seriousness of the impacts, saying that if any regulated industry was shown to be guilty of them, “The unified outcry would be deafening but it’s not, with this, and we need to change that.”

That led Chesbro to “issue a challenge” to environmental groups across the state. He asked them to “join the North Coast environmental community in focusing on this as a serious issue, every bit as serious as the other threats to the forest that they focus on.”

Chesbro acknowledged that illegal marijuana growers are not easily-defined targets but he said the assistance of environmental groups is needed to “educate the public and the legislature about the need to take steps.”


10 Responses to “Cannabis Destruction Shocks Lawmakers – March 1, 2012”

  1. Annon

    Public outreach is needed here. The “grow it in the sun” & “diesel dope is pollution pot” propaganda that has been spreading through our community over the past five years has really changed public opinion and practice for the better. The same is needed here. This is an ur regulated and in accounted industry that is difficult to manage and control, suggestions On environmentally friend water conservation techniques and responsible grading suggestions are our best bet here.

  2. Yes, that and not indiscriminately dumping waste around the landscape.

  3. tosh

    Dearest growers, give me your extra dirt. I can use it for my garden. Really though.

  4. Julia

    I feel as though this is an unfortunate side effect of the “gold rush” nature of marijuana in California. People are trying to make a quick buck, not really committed to the industry or it’s impact on the communities.
    It’s going to suck economically when the boom turns to bust. But I’m hopeful that a little bubble bursting will foster a more responsible industry.
    I appreciate the Eye continuing to report on these impacts. They are shockingly common!

  5. Dirk Diggler

    Jeeze just smoke a joint and chill.

  6. Jane

    What an ass to just drive up to Redwood park and dump your dirt. It’s in clear sight! Your lack of digression make me want to slap you in the face. How the hell is marijuana going to get any respect around here if stupid idiots like yourself just drive up to a PUBLIC PARK and dump MARIJUANA DIRT?? Whoever dumped their dirt there knew what they were doing and knew what the scene looked like when they left it. I just can’t believe that someone living in Humboldt County, as green and beautiful as it is, has such little respect for the place that makes them money. If you smoke dope YOUR EXPECTED TO CARE A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THE EARTH! That’s the whole methodology behind the plant, idiot.

  7. Stoner Freeman

    Hey man itZ like hickin on a soft trail better thn paved with eval chemicles n sht cars are death we don’t need a car nobody needs a car just paths slow down enjoy life man peace.

  8. oag

    Nnnnkay…re; the above comment, whatever. Go “hickin” on some soft dirt. How appropriately misspelled is that? Perfectly accentuated what you seemed to be trying to communicate.. I think. But Jane, that is eloquently put. Really good point(s). It is real easy to maintain a clean, thought out grow. Idiots and greedy slobs are giving the plant a real bad name with the powers that be. Couple that with unnecessary crime, violence, & also the fact that CA. blew everything waaay out of proportion (use marijuana to save our economy! Well, yeah. Do that, but shut up about it please, duh..) thereby attracting the full attention of the “FEDS”, which is unfortunate as hell in timing because it is a vicious election year.. yata yata. Grow your own. Share. Keep your good people circle tight. Marijuana is an incredible plant and medicine. The best one. I hope these people don’t ruin it for the rest.

  9. freedom lover 1776

    Oh my gosh, lets everybody freak out over a little dirt?? Are you people serious?? There are way more egregious destructions of our environment going on. Why don’t we worry more about GMO corn pollen infecting all of the worlds corn, or GMO salmon polluting our streams destroying natural fisheries. No instead everyone cries about a little dirt?? Much more fertilizer chemicals are coming from peoples grassy lawns. Get real and think for once.

  10. Every weekend in Arcata, people work to restore and improve our creeks. Then someone comes along and dumps chemical-saturated soil, trim, root balls etc. on those waterways. How about we open up your yard and vegetable garden as a used soil dump site, Freedom Lover 1776? After all, it’s just “a little dirt,” right? That OK with you?


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