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Monday, August 11, 2014

Illegal Marijuana Operations Divert Precious Water

Aerial view of guerrilla cannabis plot
The fertile land of California has long been home to cultivation; its central valley produces 8 percent of the nation's agricultural output by value. California is also known for its abundance of marijuana growers in the north, being one of the world's largest producers of the crop. With all the growing that goes on, from tomatoes to cannabis, the state requires a vast amount of water - a resource that is currently less than abundant.

California is experiencing one of the worst droughts on record and the state declared a drought emergency in January. So it goes without saying that every drop of water in California is considered precious, unfortunately illegal marijuana operations are diverting the precious water, The New York Times reports.

The cultivation of marijuana requires a large amount of water, much more than your average vegetable - about five to 10 gallons. The state allows restricted growing permits for those cultivating for medicinal purposes. Due to the states stance on medical marijuana, the growth of cultivation in Mendocino and Humboldt counties doubled between 2009 and 2012, according California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. The expansion has had serious consequences, the agency says.

California has restrictions on the number of plants you can grow at any given time, but the state does not say how big your plants have to be. Naturally a number of growers grow their plants as large as possible, requiring vast amounts of water. When you couple the practices of some legal growers with that of illegal growers, who follow no rules, you can clearly see that more water than California can afford is being wasted. 

“Old hippies are not our problem — old hippies get it,” said Sheriff Thomas D. Allman of Mendocino County. “They’re going organic; they’re doing water reduction.” So are “young hippies,” he said. “I’m talking about people that move here in April, grow marijuana as fast as they can until October. The 20-year-old kid who wants to make his million bucks, and he’s using these steroid fertilizers. He doesn’t care about how much water he uses, or what he puts in the soil.”

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