I think marijuana should be legalized.It is not a gateway drug and it offers a variety of important medicinal benefits. It’s a total no-brainer as far as I’m concerned.People should have the right to choose. But there is another very important reason that pot should be legal, one that I’ve not seen addressed much in the media.
The Mexican drug cartels are growing marijuana on public lands, primarily in California, and have been doing so for years. The general consensus is that after 9/11, when we tightened our borders, the various cartels increased their growing activities in the US. These large scale grows are raping our national parklands, permanently polluting waterways and killing the animals.It’s a horrible problem and one that I address in my novel, Point Dume.As research for my book I spent two weeks in the summer of ‘08 working with law enforcement and the military locating, infiltrating and eradicating some of these marijuana gardens.We were flown by helicopter into the sites then broke down the infrastructure and cleaned up the pollution as best we could.It was dangerous because these were active sites and the growers were hiding out in the backcountry.We were protected by armed guards at all times. That operation, called LOCCUST, netted $1.4 billion in eradicated marijuana plants.There were 36 arrests.What we found was just the tip of the iceberg.
According to the recent HIDTA report, California produces more outdoor grown marijuana than Mexico. HIDTA stands for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.It is a government program that coordinates drug control efforts among local, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies.There are 32 HIDTAs in the U.S. and the report was compiled from information gathered by the four California state programs. According to the June 4, 2010 report California seized more marijuana on grow sites throughout the state than was seized at the U.S. – Mexico border.Let me quote the report:
“Marijuana production in 2009 exceeded Mexico’s”
“More Marijuana was eradicated in California than was seized at the US-Mexico Border: There were 1,489,643 kilograms of cannabis seized during 2009 at the U.S. – Mexico border. This amounts to 1,486 Metric Tons of cannabis, about 1/3rd of what was eradicated in California (5,140 MT).”
“California’s law enforcement eradicated more marijuana than was produced in Canada”
“California may supply 3/4th of all the marijuana for US consumers”
The report is very thorough in its number analysis but it doesn’t mention the toxicity of these operations or the long-term implications of chemical usage in designated wilderness.And trust me, cartel grow sites are not organic.They are using the most toxic pesticides, rodenticides and fertilizers to grow the plants.They are killing everything in the area and permanently polluting waterways.I’ve been in these sites—there’s no wildlife.No snakes or bunnies or deer.It’s a death zone.
It seems to me that the environmental impact of marijuana gardens on public lands should central to any discussion of legalization.If we legalized pot, we could regulate and control growing standards. And by doing so, we would diminish incentive for these operations to grow pot in our national parks.I’ve been talking about this to anyone who will listen.I think it’s time the word got out.
Protect our public lands and designated wilderness—legalize marijuana!