Report Shows Nearly 90 Percent of Illegal Cannabis Farms Use Toxic Pesticides
According to new reports from federal authorities and researchers, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of illegal marijuana grows in California that are using dangerous pesticides. As a result, researchers said these illegal grows are harming animals and poisoning water sources. Regulation is meant to keep consumers safe and informed, we should all want illegal activity out of the cannabis industry so it will gain true legitimacy and further societal acceptance. Not all cannabis is the equal. Ensure you only procure your medicine from reliable resources.
Increase in Dangerous Chemicals
As reported by the Associated Press, new stats show that roughly nine out of 10 illegal cannabis grow sites are using dangerous chemicals in the cultivation process, including toxic pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers.
These new stats represent a dramatic increase in the number of grows using harmful chemicals. For example, today’s rate of chemical use is reportedly six times higher than it was in 2012. And last year, 75 percent of illegal grows were using dangerous chemicals. Clearly, the number of sites using these types of chemicals has been steadily climbing.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Forester Vicki Christiansen estimated that 1.2 billion gallons (4.5 billion liters) of scarce water are diverted to illicit grows in California national forests each year. And California is not alone, with illegal drug traffickers found in 72 national forests in 21 states, she said, calling it “a major national problem.”
According to researchers, when illegal grows use chemicals it can pose a significant risk to the local environment. In particular, pesticides and other similar toxins often end up poisoning local wildlife. Additionally, these chemicals leach into water sources, where they harm fish and spread toxins further downstream.
In some cases, researchers said that pesticides were being added directly to irrigation waters. Obviously, this can lead to significant damage as the chemicals flow to agricultural sites downstream and can contaminate the soil.
Officials are struggling to keep up with this dramatic increase in chemical use. Most notably, clean up projects are backlogged. In some cases, toxic cultivation sites have been waiting as long as eight years to be cleaned up.
This year, more resources are going toward cleaning up these toxic sites. So far, clean up crews have found 95 illegal grows and removed more than 10-tons of potentially harmful chemicals from these locations.
In total, clean up crews have worked on 160 sites. Authorities have seized more than 600,000 cannabis plants and over 25,000 pounds of harvested weed. Additionally, clean up crews have removed around 60 tons of garbage.
Carbofuran: A Deadly Chemical
Much concern has arisen in response to the increased use of carbofuran, an incredibly potent and deadly chemical that was originally intended to kill crop-eating insects. But it was quickly found to be so toxic that many countries around the world have banned it, including the U.S.
Researcher Mourad Gabriel, one of the few researchers studying the ecological impact of illicit grow sites, said the pesticide is so powerful that a quarter-teaspoon can kill a 300-pound (136-kilogram) bear.
Similarly, a single grain of the substance is enough to kill a bird.
According to new reports from federal authorities and researchers, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of illegal marijuana grows in California that are using dangerous pesticides. As a result, researchers said these illegal grows are harming animals and poisoning water sources.
The current trend of increased carbofuran is alarming for other reasons, too. This chemical is not meant to be consumed in any capacity, let alone heating up and then smoking. And, as of recently, grows using the chemical tend to use it in much more concentrated forms. This makes the already-dangerous chemical even more potent and more dangerous to water sources and local wildlife.