Mexican drug cartels, operating illegal marijuana farms on public lands, are polluting forests and saddling the federal government with millions of dollars in clean-up costs. Trespass marijuana farms are thought to number in the hundreds of thousands in California alone. The sites “wreak havoc on the land, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of pounds of garbage, leaching caustic chemicals, polluting watersheds, and damaging the habitat of endangered and at-risk species,” reports High Country News.
The wildfires that swept across Mendocino, Sonoma and Napa counties in Northern California last week devastated the region’s legal cannabis growers, torching their crops and facilities at peak harvest time and leaving smaller farmers at risk of collapse.
Driven by "diablo" winds, massive wildfires burned hundreds of buildings, including three wineries, and tens of thousands of acres in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties, reports the Wine Spectator. Dairy farms and produce growers with crops ripe for fall harvest also were in peril, "but moving farm animals is another story," said the San Francisco Chronicle.
More than 1,500 Hmong farmers have moved to Northern California’s Siskiyou County and now raise as much as $1 billion-worth of marijuana, according to some estimates. But locals haven’t been pleased to see the newcomers or their crop, which law enforcement destroys during raids, claiming that the pot is sold to the black market.
While the rest of the nation debates whether to allow industrial hemp farming, the Navajo Nation is already planning for the first crop. Some are hoping that the controversial plant will help bring money to Native American reservations, the same way that casinos have, says Reuters.
Police officers in California's Humboldt County, where most of the state's pot is grown, are turning to environmental laws to catch illegal growers, reports USA Today.
Medical marijuana producers are carving out a niche market with kosher weed, now that rabbis have agreed to inspect their facilities, says the New York Times. “There’s no question that the number of patients that desire kosher products, coupled with battling the stigma associated with medical marijuana, made this a wise economic investment,” says Ari Hoffnung, chief executive at Vireo Health, which became the first medical marijuana company in the U.S. to receive a kosher certification this January.
Although marijuana is legal, either medicinally or recreationally, in half the states, growers "don't have a clear understanding of which pesticides and fungicides are safe to use - for workers or consumers," says Rocky Mountain PBS I-News in a piece produced in partnership with FERN.