Environment

  • In California, illegal marijuana farms are taking over thousands of acres of land as toxic wastes are increasingly corrupting ecosystems
  • California is responsible for the majority of illegal U.S. marijuana farming
  • New data says the state holds ‘731,000 pounds of solid fertilizer, 491,000 ounces of concentrated liquid fertilizer and 200,000 ounces of toxic pesticides.’
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced in 2011 its planned to ban toxic fertilizers like zinc phosphide 
  • Chemicals of the kind have been linked to serious health effects in both animals and humans

Illegal marijuana farms are taking over thousands of acres of land as toxic waste continues to corrupt ecosystems in areas along the West Coast.

According to a new report accessed by Reuters, the state of California, which is responsible for more than ’90 percent of illegal U.S. marijuana farming,’ has shown a drastic increase in the use of nationally restricted fertilizers and pesticides such as carbofuran and zinc phosphide, ecologists say.

‘Increasingly, dangerous, unregistered pesticides are being encountered by law enforcement officers who investigate illegal marijuana grows,’ Special Agent-in-Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency criminal enforcement program, Jay M. Green, announced in a public release.

  • Illegal marijuana farms are corrupting ecosystems on the West Coast

  • Thousands of used butane cans used to process concentrated marijuana dumped in the forest in Humboldt County, California

  • Fertilizer seen in a makeshift pond with irrigation hoses attached in order to funnel water to grow sites in Mendocino County is California

‘Through their indiscriminate application, these unregistered pesticides pollute our lands and waters, create a significant safety risk to humans and animals, and present a mounting cleanup expense for taxpayers.’

Expert ecologist Mourad Gabriel, who reports over the issue for the U.S. Forest Service, said California is utilizing ’41 times more solid fertilizers and 80 times more liquid pesticides’ than the state’s initial reported cited in 2013.

Chemicals of these kind have been linked to health defects and death in both animals and humans.

The agency cited ‘a single swallow can be fatal to a small child, and carbofuran to be ‘highly toxic to vertebrates and birds. In granular form, a single grain will kill a bird; for humans, one quarter of a teaspoon is a sufficient dose to be fatal.’

  • Blue tinted water with fertilizer at an illegal marijuana growing site in Mendocino County, California

The Environmental Protection Agency announced in 2011 the department would ban the inorganic chemical compound zinc phosphide.

Included in the unpublished data accessed by Reuters, Gabriel said federal land in California currently holds ‘731,000 pounds of solid fertilizer, 491,000 ounces of concentrated liquid fertilizer and 200,000 ounces of toxic pesticides.’

Illegal pot growers could face jail time and numerous charges for growing illegally, while taxpayers could expect to be left with hefty bills to aid in the sterilization of the toxic waste sites.

  • A pot growing greenhouse is nestled into a clearing in Shelter Cove

  • Taxpayers could expect to be left with hefty bills to aid in the sterilization of toxic waste sites

Since marijuana was legalized in the state of California, officials have been pushing to properly license growers and carefully supervise the production, testing and distribution of hemp.

Supervisor of Trinity County Keith Groves said there are roughly 4,000 illegal growers in the region currently.

‘I’ll be happy if we can get 500 of them to become licensed,’ he told Reuters.

The expense and danger of cleanup has created a backlog of 639 illegal marijuana farms awaiting restoration in California, according to U.S. Forest Service data compiled for Reuters. Each farm covers up to 50 acres.

 ‘We’re getting contamination over and over again at those locations,’ said Gabriel, as toxins move from unsafe containers into the soil and water.

At sites that state officials said they had cleaned up completely, his team found 30-50 percent of the chemicals were still there.

‘They are like superfund sites,’ said Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Escobar,

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4768664/Marijuana-farms-forming-toxic-waste-dumps-California.html August 2017

According to a Colorado Springs Gazette editorial about legalization in Colorado there has been a doubling of drivers involved in fatal crashes testing positive for marijuana. [1]

Marijuana significantly impairs driving including time and distance estimation and reaction times and motor coordination. [2] The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lists marijuana as the most prevalent drug in fatally injured drivers with 28 % testing positive for marijuana. [3]

It is true that the crash risk for a driver on alcohol is higher than on marijuana. But to suggest it is safe to drive after using marijuana is irresponsible. An even greater danger is the combination of alcohol and marijuana that has severe psychomotor effects that impair driving. [4]

What about our kids? Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those aged 16-25. [5] Weekend nighttime driving under the influence of marijuana among young drivers has increased by 48%. [6] About 13 % of high school seniors said they drove after using marijuana while only 10 % drove after having five or more drinks.[7] Another study showed about 28,000 seniors each year admitted to being in at least one motor vehicle accident after using marijuana. [8]

The marijuana industry is backing legalization. Do we want more dangerous drivers on our roads and dead kids so the industry can make money from selling marijuana?

References regarding DUI

[1] http://gazette.com/editorial-the-sad-anniversary-of-big-commercial-pot-in-colorado/article/1614900

[2] NHTSA, Use of Controlled Substances and Highway Safety; A Report to Congress (U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Washington, D.C., 1988)

[3] http://cesar.umd.edu/cesar/cesarfax/vol19/19-49.pdf

[4] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6448a1.htm?s_cid=mm6448a1_w

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid

[7] https://archives.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/drug-impaired-driving-by-youth-remains-serious-problem

[8] “Unsafe Driving by High School Seniors: National Trends from 1976 to 2001 in Tickets and Accidents After Use of Alcohol, Marijuana and Other Illegal Drugs.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol. May 2003

LEGALIZING POT WILL CAUSE MORE OPIATE USE

Legalizing marijuana will cause more marijuana use. Marijuana use is associated with an increased risk for substance use disorders. [1] The interaction between the opioid and the cannabinoid system in the human body might provide a neurobiological basis for a relationship between marijuana use and opiate abuse.[2] Marijuana use appears to increase rather than decrease the risk of developing nonmedical prescription opioid use and opioid use disorder. [3] In 2017, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) landmark report written by top scientists concluded after a review of over 10,000 peer-reviewed academic articles, that marijuana use is connected to progression to and dependence on other drugs, including studies showing connections to heroin use. [4]

New research suggests that marijuana users may be more likely than nonusers to misuse prescription opioids and develop prescription opioid use disorder. The investigators analyzed data from more than 43,000 American adults. The respondents who reported past-year marijuana use had 2.2 times higher odds than nonusers of meeting diagnostic criteria for prescription opioid use disorder. They also had 2.6 times greater odds of initiating prescription opioid misuse. [5]

Marijuana used as a medicine is being sold as reducing the need for other medicines. However, a new study shows that medical marijuana users were significantly more likely to use prescription drugs in the past 12 months. Individuals who used medical marijuana were also significantly more likely to report nonmedical use in the past 12 months of any prescription drug with elevated risks for pain relievers, stimulants and tranquilizers. [6]

References regarding opiates

[1] JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 Apr;73(4):388-95. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.3229.

Cannabis Use and Risk of Psychiatric Disorders: Prospective Evidence From a US National Longitudinal Study. Blanco C1, Hasin DS2, Wall MM2, Flórez-Salamanca L3, Hoertel N4, Wang S2, Kerridge BT2, Olfson M2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26886046

[2] Cadoni C, Pisanu A, Solinas M, Acquas E, Di Chiara G. Behavioural sensitization after repeated exposure to Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cross-sensitization with morphine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001;158(3):259-266. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11640927_Behavioral_sensitization_after_repeated_exposure_to_D9-tetrahydrocannabinol_and_cross-sensitization_with_morphine

[3] Cannabis Use and Risk of Prescription Opioid Use Disorder in the United States, Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., Melanie M. Wall, Ph.D., Shang-Min Liu, M.S., Carlos Blanco, M.D., Ph.D. Published online: September 26, 2017at: https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17040413

[4] Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. See: http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2017/Cannabis-Health-Effects/Cannabis-chapter-highlights.pdf

[5] https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2017/09/marijuana-use-associated-increased-risk-prescription-opioid-misuse-use-disorders

[6] Journal of Addiction Medicine, http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/693004/?sc=dwtn

MARIJUANA USE BEFORE, DURING OR AFTER PREGNANCY CAN CAUSE SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITIONS, LEARNING PROBLEMS, AND BIRTH DEFECTS

Legalizing marijuana will cause more marijuana use among women of child bearing age. Prenatal marijuana use has been linked with:

1. Developmental and neurological disorders and learning deficits in children.

3. Premature birth, miscarriage, stillbirth.

4. An increased likelihood of a person using marijuana as a young adult.

5. The American Medical Association states that marijuana use may be linked with low birth weight, premature birth, behavioral and other problems in young children.

6. Birth defects and childhood cancer.

7. Reproductive toxicity affecting spermatogenesis which is the process of the formation of male gamete including meiosis and formation of sperm cells.

Moderate concentrations of THC, the main psychoactive substance in marijuana, when ingested by mothers while pregnant or nursing, could have long-lasting effects on the child, including increasing stress responsivity and abnormal patterns of social interactions. THC consumed in breast milk could affect brain development.

References regarding pregnancy

Volkow ND, Compton WM, Wargo EM. The risks of marijuana use during pregnancy. JAMA. 2017;317(2):129-130.

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/letter-director

https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Marijuana-Use-During-Pregnancy-and-Lactation

AMA pushes for regulation on pot use during pregnancy

http://omr.bayer.ca/omr/online/sativex-pm-en.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/pdf/marijuana-pregnancy-508.pdf

Risk of Selected Birth Defects with Prenatal Illicit Drug Use, Hawaii, 1986-2002, Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, 70: 7-18, 2007

Maternal use of recreational drugs and neuroblastoma in offspring: a report from the Children’s Ocology Group., Cancer Causes Control, 2006 Jun:17(5):663-9, Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

DO YOU CARE?

Do you care…about our Environment? Marijuana growing creates environmental contamination. [1]

Do you care…about Pedestrian and Motor Vehicle Deaths caused by marijuana impaired drivers?

Increased marijuana impaired driving due to the increased potency of THC creates more risk.[2]

Do you care…about Freedom of Choice? Cannabis Use Disorder destroys freedom of choice. [3]

Do you care…about Violence, Domestic Abuse and Child abuse? Oftentimes marijuana is reported in incidents of violence. Continued marijuana use is associated with a 7-fold greater odds for subsequent commission of violent crimes. [4]

Do you care…about Safety in the Workplace? Numerous professions and trades require alertness that marijuana use can impair. Employers experience challenges to requirements for drug free workplaces, finding difficulty in hiring with many failing marijuana THC drug tests. [5]

Do you care…about Substance Use Disorders and the growing Addiction Epidemic? Recent data suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder. That sounds small? 22,000,000 US marijuana users x 30% = over 6,000,000 with a marijuana use disorder. There is a link between adolescent pot smoking and psychosis. [6]

Do you care…about Suicide Prevention? Marijuana use greatly increases risk of suicide especially among young people. [7]

Do you care…about your Pets? Vets report increases in marijuana poisoned pets since normalizing and commercializing of marijuana. [8]

Do you care…about our Students and Schools? Normalization of marijuana use brought increased use to schools. Edibles and vaping have made use harder to detect. Colorado has had an increase in high school drug violations of 71% since legalization and school suspensions for drugs increased 45%. [9]

Do you care…about Racial Inequality? Marijuana growers and sellers typically locate in poorer neighborhoods and degrade the quality of the areas. Arrests of people of color have increased since drug legalization while arrests of Caucasians have decreased. [10].

Do you care…about Our Kids and Grandkids, the Next Generations? Help protect them by advocating for their futures. [11] Please oppose increasing the use of marijuana

References

[1] https://silentpoison.com/

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6448a1.htm?s_cid=mm6448a1_w

[3] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive

[4] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-new-brain/201603/marijuana-use-increases-violent-behavior

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/297718566_Continuity_of_cannabis_use_and_violent_offending_over_the_life_course

https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/marijuana-violence-and-law-2155-6105-S11-014.pdf https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/substance-abuse/Pages/legalizing-marijuana.aspx http://www.poppot.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/020518-Child-dangers-fact-sheet-FINAL_updated.pdf?x47959

[5] http://www.questdiagnostics.com/home/physicians/health-trends/drug-testing.html

[6] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2464591

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-scope-marijuana-use-in-united-states https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/link-between-adolescent-pot-smoking-and-psychosis-strengthens/

[7] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wps.20170

http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanpsy/PIIS2215-0366(14)70307-4.pdf

[8] http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/marijuana/

[9] http://gazette.com/editorial-the-sad-anniversary-of-big-commercial-pot-in-colorado/article/1614900

https://youtu.be/BApEKGUpcXs Weed Documentary from a high school in Oregon

[10] https://learnaboutsam.org/comprehensive-study-finds-marijuana-legalization-drives-youth-use-crime-rates-black-market-harms-communities-color/

[11] https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/substance-abuse/Pages/legalizing-marijuana.aspx

Legalization

http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2017/Cannabis-Health-Effects/Cannabis-chapter-highlights.pdf

MARIJUANA EXPOSURES AMONG CHILDREN INCREASE BY UP TO OVER 600%

The rate of marijuana exposures among children under the age of six increased by 610% in the “medical” marijuana states according to a study published in Clinical Pediatrics. The data comes from the National Poison Data System. 75% percent of the children ingested edible marijuana products such as marijuana-infused candy. Clinical effects include drowsiness or lethargy, ataxia [failure of muscle coordination], agitation or irritability, confusion and coma, respiratory depression, and single or multiple seizures.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0009922815589912

MORE FACTS

Today’s marijuana is very high in potency and can reach 99% THC. It is very destructive and causes addiction, mental illness, violence, crime, DUIs and many health and social problems.

https://herb.co/marijuana/news/thc-a-crystalline

FACTS FROM COLORADO

The people who are pushing marijuana legalization paint Colorado as a pot paradise. This is not true according to Peter Droege who is the Marijuana and Drug Addiction Policy Fellow for the Centennial Institute a policy think tank in Lakewood Colorado. In a April 20, 2018 opinion article he states that:

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), Colorado is a national leader among 12-17-year-olds in (1) Last year marijuana use; (2) Last month marijuana use; and (3) The percentage of youth who tried marijuana for the first time.

A 2017 analysis by the Denver Post showed Colorado had experienced a 145% increase in the number of fatal crashes involving marijuana-impaired drivers between 2013 and 2016. While the analysis stresses that the increase cannot definitively be attributed to the legalization of marijuana, it reports that the number of marijuana-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes has more than doubled since 2013, the year before the state legalized recreational marijuana use.

A July 20, 2016 article in Westword magazine reports that increased homelessness, drugs, and crime are causing local residents and convention visitors to shun Denver’s 16th Street Mall, once one of the most vibrant tourist destinations in the region.

A group of concerned scientists from Harvard University and other institutions wrote a letter to Governor Hickenlooper on March 10, 2017, seeking to correct the record after his Feb. 26, 2017, interview on Meet the Press in which he told Chuck Todd that Colorado had not seen a spike in youth drug use after the legalization of recreational marijuana, and that there was “anecdotal” evidence of a decline in drug dealers – claims he repeated in Rolling Stone.

In the letter, the scientists reference numerous studies, including the NSDUH survey, that report a dramatic increase in youth marijuana use, emergency room visits, mental health issues and crime tied to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. They quote an official from the state’s attorney general’s office saying legalization “has inadvertently helped fuel the business of Mexican drug cartels … cartels are now trading drugs like heroin for marijuana, and the trade has since opened the door to drug and human trafficking.”

Today’s high-potency “crack weed” is marketed to youth through vapes, candies, energy drinks, lip balms and other products easy to conceal in homes and schools. Most dispensaries in Colorado are located in low-income neighborhoods, targeting young people who do not need another obstacle in fulfilling their great potential in life. *

* https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/04/20/colorado-governor-marijuana-hickenlooper-column/53

3731002/

MARIJUANA RELATED SUICIDES OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN COLORADO

Marijuana is the Number 1 substance now found in suicides of young people in Colorado who are 10-19 years old. Go to the below Colorado website and click on the box that lists “methods, circumstances and toxicology” and then click on the two boxes for 10-19 years olds. The marijuana data will appear.

https://cohealthviz.dphe.state.co.us/t/HSEBPublic/views/CoVDRS_12_1_17/Story1?:embed=y&:showAppBanner=false&:showShareOptions=true&:display_count=no&:showVizHome=no#4)

55% OF COLORADO MARIJUANA USERS THINK IT’S SAFE TO DRIVE WHILE HIGH

55% of marijuana users surveyed by the Colorado Department of Transportation last November said they believed it was safe to drive under the influence of marijuana. Within that group, the same percentage said they had driven high in the past 30 days, on average 12 times. A recent analysis of federal traffic fatality data by the Denver Post found that the number of Colorado drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana has doubled since 2013.

CDOT survey: More than half of Colorado marijuana users think it’s safe to drive while high

TODDLERS WITH LUNG INFLAMMATION

In Colorado one in six infants and toddlers hospitalized for lung inflammation are testing positive for marijuana exposure. This has been a 100% increase since legalization (10% to 21%). Non-white kids are more likely to be exposed than white kids.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160430100247.htm

TEEN ER VISITS

Marijuana related emergency room visits by Colorado teens is substantially on the rise. They see more kids with psychotic symptoms and other mental health problems and chronic vomiting due to marijuana use.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-marijuana-kids/marijuana-related-er-visits-by-colorado-teens-on-the-rise-idUSKBN1HO38A

LOW BIRTH WEIGHTS

The Colorado School of Public Health reports that there is a 50% increase in low birth weights among women who use marijuana during pregnancy. Low birth weight sets the stage for future

health problems including infection and time spent in neonatal intensive care.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180423125052.htm

EMERGENCY CARE

Colorado Cannabis Legalization and Its Effect on Emergency Care

“Not surprisingly, increased marijuana use after legalization has been accompanied by an increase in the number of ED visits and hospitalizations related to acute marijuana intoxication. Retrospective data from the Colorado Hospital Association, a consortium of more than 100 hospitals in the state, has shown that the prevalence of hospitalizations for marijuana exposure in patients aged 9 years and older doubled after the legalization of medical marijuana and that ED visits nearly doubled after the legalization of recreational marijuana, although these findings may be limited because of stigma surrounding disclosure of marijuana use in the prelegalization era. However, this same trend is reflected in the number of civilian calls to the Colorado poison control center. In the years after both medical and recreational marijuana legalization, the call volume for marijuana exposure doubled compared with that during the year before legalization.

Kim HS, Monte AA. Colorado cannabis legalization and its effect on emergency care. Ann Emerg Med. 2016;68:71-75.

https://search.aol.com/aol/search?q=http%3a%2f%2fcolorado%2520cannabis%2520legalization%2520and%2520its%2520effect%2520on%2520emergency%2520care%2e&s_it=loki-dnserror

CONTAMINATION OF MARIJUANA PRODUCTS

There is contamination in marijuana products in Colorado. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment claims that “Cannabis is a novel industry, and currently, no recognized standard methods exist for the testing of cannabis or cannabis products.”

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/marijuana-sciences-reference-library

Unified Police Sgt. Melody Gray described the process as similar to making a pipe bomb.

But some marijuana users — and dealers — are willing to take that risk despite potentially dangerous results.

For the past several years, law enforcement in several states have been combating the increasing popularity of something called “dabs.” Dabs, or hash oil concentrate, are made by extracting THC from marijuana plants. Other similar concentrate products include marijuana wax and “shatter.”

While marijuana typically contains about 15 percent THC, a dab has 80 to 90 percent THC, said Unified police detective Orin Neal.

“It’s a greater high, it’s a more intense high,” he said, noting that the potency makes it dangerous.

But in order to get that extraction, a solvent is needed, and dab producers typically use butane, which is why dabs are also referred to as butane hash oil. And sometimes, those attempting to extract THC using butane try to speed up the process by adding a heating element such as a hot plate.

Neal said the combination of butane and heat or an open flame often results in explosions.

“It’s a recipe for disaster, really,” Neal said.

Police say that’s what happened June 26, when a 33-year-old woman was critically injured in an explosion in a basement at 3329 S. Scott Ave.

“In this situation and many other situations, I think it happens accidentally. They’re doing this operation in an area that’s not properly ventilated. And because butane is so combustible and highly flammable, any exposure to any open flame — from a pilot light on a water heater or a furnace in a house to an oven to lighting a cigarette in a house or anything like that — could cause a huge explosion, which is what happened the other day,” he said.

Neal said the result was like a bomb going off inside the small, enclosed basement room.

Dabs have become a nationwide trend. In some states, the drug and the dangerous manufacturing of it have been a problem for law enforcers for several years.

“The use of butane has caused multiple explosions all over the country, including one in a university housing complex near the University of Montana in October of 2014. These explosions have killed and severely burned people of all ages nationwide. The explosions are also causing serious structural damage to property and neighboring properties,” officer Jermaine Galloway wrote in Utah State Trooper magazine in 2017.

Some states have made possession of dabs a felony crime while marijuana possession is a misdemeanor. Utah does not distinguish between the two.

The fad has only recently become an issue in Utah. But police fear as it catches on and more people attempt to manufacture their own dabs, it will become like the meth lab problem of 30 years ago.

Neal said he has seen two or three explosions locally due to THC extraction.

The dab trend “is currently sweeping the country and is overwhelming some law enforcement, educators, safety officials and parents,” Galloway wrote a year ago. “This ‘new’ marijuana is completely different than anything we have dealt with in the past.”

Source: Officer Galloway & The Northwest Alcohol Conference jermaine@tallcopsaysstop.comJuly2018

As of yesterday, it’s now legal for adults in California to purchase recreational marijuana. This is being hailed as a breakthrough against marijuana prohibition, but the masses of would-be pot smokers in California seem to carry a popular delusion that rests on the false idea that marijuana is safe to smoke in unlimited quantities because it’s “natural.”

As much as I disdain prohibition against any medicinal plant — and I’m convinced the “War on Drugs” was a miserable failure — I have news for all those who smoke pot: Smoking anything is a health risk because you’re inhaling a toxic stew of carcinogens produced in the smoke itself. Whether you’re smoking pot or tobacco, you’re still poisoning yourself with the very kind of carcinogens that promote lung cancer, heart disease, accelerated aging and cognitive decline.

Just because cannabis is now legal to smoke in California doesn’t mean it’s a wise habit to embrace. (There’s also a much better way to consume cannabis: Liquid form for oral consumption, as explained below…)

California, which increasingly seems to be operating in a delusional fairy tale bubble on every issue from immigration to transgenderism, believes the legalization of recreational marijuana is a breakthrough worth celebrating. “The dispensary staff cheered as hundreds stood in line outside the club, waiting to shop and celebrate,” reports SF Gate. “At some shops, the coming-out party was expected to feature live music, coffee and doughnuts, prizes for those first in line and speeches from supportive local politicians…”

Because, y’know, in a state that’s being overrun by illegal aliens, the junk science of “infinite genders” and university mobs of climate change cultists, what’s really needed is a whole new wave of lung cancer victims to add even more burden to the state’s health care costs. Genius! Gov. Brown should run for President or something…

Inhale some more pesticides and see how “natural” you feel

Sadly, many pro-cannabis consumers in California have convinced themselves that Big Tobacco is evil, but smoking pot is safe and natural… even “green.” Yet the cold hard truth of the matter it that marijuana in California is often produced with a toxic cocktail of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Yep, the very same people who buy “organic” at the grocery store are now smoking and inhaling cancer-causing weed grown with conventional pesticides. These are the same people who are concerned about 1 ppb of glyphosate in their Cheerios while simultaneously smoking 1,000 ppb of Atrazine in their weed. But science be damned, there’s a bong and a gas mask handy. Smoke up!

California pot has already been scientifically proven to be shockingly contaminated. A whopping “…93 percent of samples collected by KNBC-TV from 15 dispensaries in four Southern California counties tested positive for pesticides,” reports the UK Daily Mail, which also reports:

That may come as a surprise for consumers who tend to trust what’s on store shelves because of federal regulations by the US Agriculture Department or the US Food and Drug Administration. ‘Unfortunately, that’s not true of cannabis,’ Land said. ‘They wrongly assume it’s been tested for safety.’

I suppose all the science in the world is irrelevant when you have a mob of people who just want to get high. These are the same people who will March Against Monsanto, but they won’t even buy pesticide-free weed that they’re inhaling.

Edible cannabis products often contain toxic solvents, too

It’s not just the pesticides in weed that are a major concern: Edible pot products also frequently contain traces of toxic solvents such as hexane. Because of the shocking lack of regulation of cannabis product production in places like Colorado, many small-scale producers are using insanely dangerous solvents to extract CBD, THC and other molecules from raw cannabis plants. Those solvents include:

  • Hexane (a highly explosive solvent also used by the soy industry to extract soy protein)
  • IPA (isopropyl alcohol, which causes permanent nerve damage if you drink it)
  • Gasoline (also used to extract heroin in Third World countries)

Anyone who thinks consuming these solvents is somehow “healthy” may have already suffered extensive brain damage from consuming those solvents. Yet edible cannabis products are almost universally looked upon as health-enhancing products, often with no thought given whatsoever to the pesticides, solvents or other toxins they may contain. (Some shops do conduct lab testing of their products, so if you’re going to consume these products, make sure you get lab-tested cannabis products.)

In essence, the very same state where “progressives” have now come to believe there are an infinite number of genders — and that global warming causes extremely cold weather — have now embraced a delusional fairy tale about the imagined safety of consuming cannabis. All the news about the health benefits of cannabis only seems to have made the delusion worse: Some people now perceive smoking weed as a form of nutritional supplementation. They’ve even made it part of their holistic lifestyles, in a twisted kind of way.

But what California has actually unleashed with all this is a whole new wave of:

  • Heart disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Cognitive decline
  • Accelerated aging
  • Increased health care costs state-wide

Check with your friends in California and you’ll find that they have little to no awareness of the devastating health consequences of long-term pot smoking. It’s not going to turn you into a raging lunatic as depicted in Refer Madness, but it is going to expose your lungs, bloodstream and brain to a shockingly toxic stew of cell-damaging carcinogens. That gives pot smoke many of the same health risks as cigarette smoke.

So what’s the right answer on all this? If you want to stay healthy, stop smoking cannabis. Take it in liquid form instead.

The safer option: Liquid cannabis extracts

Liquid cannabis extracts are not only far safer to consume (because they don’t contain toxic carcinogens found in smoke); they also contain a far more diverse composition of cannabinoids.

CBD-A, for example, the carboxylic acid form of cannabidiol, is destroyed by heat. This means that when you smoke cannabis, you’re not getting any CBD-A, even if it’s naturally present in the plant. The heat of the incineration destroys it before you inhale.

The same is true with THC-A and other carboxylic acid forms of cannabinoids. In fact, cannabis extracts that are heated to destroy those components are called “decarboxylated” or just “de-carbed” for short. Lighting up a joint and burning the cannabis as you inhale actually destroys many of the more medicinal components of cannabis.

Taking cannabis extracts orally, on the other hand, gives you the full complement of all the cannabinoids, terpenes and other constituents… without the health risks associated with inhaling smoke.

The cannabis extract brand that we test and certify in our lab to meet or exceed label claims is called Native Hemp Solutions. It’s a whole-plant extract that maintains the natural cannabinoids and other constituents found in the living plant. Because it’s not an isolate, its molecules work synergistically to provide a more profound effect.

Liquid forms of cannabis are vastly superior to cannabis smoke in terms of their synergistic phytonutrients (chemical constituents). While smoking marijuana provides a more rapid assimilation of THC into your bloodstream, the oral form of cannabis extracts actually provide a vastly more diverse array of nutrients, many of which are being studied for therapeutic use.

That’s why I don’t smoke cannabis. In fact, the only cannabis I consume is high-CBD, near-zero-THC liquid forms. That’s because I don’t want to give myself lung cancer or heart disease as a side effect of consuming a cannabis product.

Smoking pot isn’t harmless: Think rationally about the way to ingest cannabis molecules

The bottom line here is that I want to encourage you to think carefully about the vectors through which you introduce cannabis molecules into your body. Smoking pot is rapid but carries long-term health risks due to carcinogenic smoke that you’re inhaling. I’m thrilled that California finally decriminalized this healing plant, but the fanfare surrounding the change in the law almost seems to be a celebration of smoking, which is a truly hazardous habit no matter what you’re smoking.

Oral forms are vastly superior in terms of ingesting the full array of nutrients, and some people on the extreme end of the spectrum actually use cannabis suppositories for a rapid effect that doesn’t involve damaging the lungs. Personally, I’m happy with taking CBD oils as a dietary supplement for the simple reason that I don’t ingest cannabis to get high; I ingest it for its health supporting effects.

Now, let us hope Jeff Sessions and the feds can finally get around to ending marijuana prohibition, too. It’s time to end the senseless war on this promising natural herb, but we must also think carefully about the ways we ingest it.

Source: https://www.naturalnews.com/2018-01-01-california-legalize-pot-smokers-cannabis-contaminated-pesticides-mold-heavy-metals.html

All creatures great and small are being poisoned by the pesticides and rodenticides in the water they drink, and in the food they eat. This polluted water from northern California marijuana grows eventually flows to much of the State. The lawless pot industry is nothing less than purveyors of poison. The recent scientific study “Cultivating Disaster: The Effect of Cannabis Cultivation on the Environment of Calaveras County,” points out that the cultivation of the drug was allowed by the State without adequate understanding of the impact on the environment and public health, welfare and safety. The chemicals that flow from the grow sites to the watershed had never been approved for these crops.

California does not regulate marijuana as a medicine because it is a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance under Federal Law, rather it is classified as an agricultural product. However, pot growers do not have to meet the same stringent requirements for chemicals and fertilizers as do all other farmers. Though there is limited testing being conducted by local water providers to determine if dangerous chemicals are leaching into water supplies or waste treatment systems, independent water experts testing water samples in Calaveras County found two thirds of the samples contained chemicals proven to be deadly poison to humans, fish and animals.

Of particular concern is carbofuron, an extremely toxic, water soluble granular pesticide banned in the U.S. but used among Mexican cartels. It is reported that an eighth of a teaspoon would kill a 300 lb black bear. In 2017, UC Davis researchers found harmful bacteria and deadly mold and Aspergillus fungi on marijuana in grows and dispensaries. This critical threat from marijuana grows to our environment and the human population is just beginning to surface.

The damaging effects of marijuana (cannabis), often considered a hallucinogenic drug, have long been known. High level THC, the mind-altering chemical in marijuana, is being grown and sold today as a “medicine.” It is long acting and addictive, causing brain damage, loss of intellect, psychotic breaks, suicides, mental illness, and birth defects and leads to other social costs from higher crime rates, highway deaths, excessive high school dropouts, and increased ER admissions, among others.

This lawless Big Marijuana Industry follows the playbook of Big Tobacco: GET KIDS HOOKED – ADDICTION OFTEN FOLLOWS. Their advertisements include images of Santa Claus, kids’ movies and cartoons, and they sell “edibles,” pot infused candy, lollipops and gummy bears with THC levels 50-70%. Many products are advertised as being 94-95% THC. Now there is crystalline THC that is 99.99% THC, known as “the strongest weed in the world.” Unfortunately, the public perception of marijuana is based on marijuana of the past – with 1- 5% THC.

The Calaveras Study estimates 1200 grows sites in that county; U.S. Forest Service estimates a tag of 2 billion to reclaim these sites. An estimated 50,000 grow sites in California would cost 50 – 80 billion to reclaim. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says, “We are aware of the seriousness of the problem, but (we) do not know who is going to help clean it up.”

U.S. Attorney General Sessions has indicated his willingness to enforce our federal food and drug and environment laws when it comes to marijuana. Our California U.S. Attorneys must prosecute those who have broken federal, state, and county ordinances and explore funding to pay for cleanup of the land. This is not just a California issue, the U.S. Supreme Court

has ruled that federal marijuana laws preempt state laws and that marijuana control is a federal matter, not a states’ rights matter. There is no time to waste. Our future is at stake.

Source: Press Release Californians Against Legalisation of Marijuana Feb.6th 2018

Xcel Energy utility officials say lighting companies working with cannabis growers are testing LED lamps that require less electricity

DENVER, CO – DECEMBER 02: Denver Fire Department Lieutenant, Tom Pastorius, does an inspection of a Denver marijuana grow operation, December 02, 2014. Local government officials from Denver to smaller cities and rural hamlets say the pivotal first-year rollout went smoothly in most cases. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

GOLDEN — Surging electricity consumption by Colorado’s booming marijuana industry is sabotaging Denver’s push to use less energy — just as the White House perfects a Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution.

Citywide electricity use has been rising at the rate of 1.2 percent a year, and 45 percent of that increase comes from marijuana-growing facilities, Denver officials said Wednesday.

Denver has a goal of capping energy use at 2012 levels. Electricity is a big part of that.

The latest Xcel Energy data show cannabis grow facilities statewide, the bulk of which are in Denver, used as much as 200 million kilowatt hours of electricity in 2014, utility officials said. City officials said 354 grow facilities in Denver used about 121 million kwh in 2013, up from 86 million kwh at 351 facilities in 2012.

“Of course we want to grow economically. But as we do that, we’d like to save energy,” city sustainability strategist Sonrisa Lucero said.

She and other Denver officials joined 30 business energy services and efficiency leaders seeking U.S. Department of Energy guidance Wednesday at a forum in Golden. Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr said feds will promote best practices and provide technical help through an Office of Technology Transitions.

“It’s a big issue for us,” Lucero told Orr. “We really do need some assistance in finding some good technology.”

Orr said he tried to figure out “how we would address that to Congress.”

When the EPA later this summer unveils the Clean Power Plan for state-by-state carbon cuts and installation of energy-saving technology, utilities are expected to accelerate a shift away from coal-generated electricity toward cleaner sources, such as natural gas, wind and solar.

Until they can replace more coal-fired plants, the nation’s utilities increasingly are trying to manage demand by, for example, offering rebates to customers who conserve electricity.

Colorado for years has been encouraging cuts in carbon emissions by requiring utilities to rely more on renewable sources.

Yet electricity use statewide has been increasing by 1 percent to 2 percent a year, due in part to population growth, said Jeffrey Ackermann, director of the Colorado Energy Office.

The rising electricity demand means more opportunities to save money by using energy more efficiently , Ackermann said. “We’re not going to compel people to reduce their usage. … But we’re going to try to bring efficiency into the conversation.”

Colorado’s marijuana sector, in particular, is growing rapidly, relying on electricity to run lights that stimulate plant growth, as well as air-conditioning and dehumidifiers. The lights emit heat, raising demand for air conditioning, which requires more electricity.

“How do you capture their attention long enough to say: Hey, if you make this investment now, it could pay back in the future,” Ackermann said, referring to possibilities for better lights.

Southwest Energy Efficiency Project director Howard Geller said new adjustable light-emitting diode, or LED, lights have emerged that don’t give off heat. Companies installing these wouldn’t require so much air-cooling and could cut electricity use, Geller said.

Lighting companies are working with pot companies to test the potential for LED lamps to reduce electricity use without hurting plants, Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said. Xcel is advising companies on how much electricity different lights use, he said.

Denver officials currently aren’t considering energy-efficiency rules for the industry, said Elizabeth Babcock, manager of air, water and climate for the city. Marijuana-growing facilities in 2013 used 1.85 percent of total electricity consumed in Denver.

“We see many opportunities in all sectors,” Babcock said. “Energy efficiency lowers the cost of doing business, and there are lots of opportunities to cut energy waste in buildings, transportation and industry.”

Source:    www.denverpost.com   7th January 2015

The Food and Drug Administration has issued warning letters to “high CBD” hemp oil vendors, stating that their products are unapproved drugs that often don’t contain any active ingredient.

list of firms that were issued warning letters for marketing “unapproved drugs for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of diseases” was posted on the FDA’s website to warn consumers about these mostly hemp-derived products. Capsules, dog treats, e-liquids and oils all claiming to have CBD tested either negative or very low for cannabinoids.

Many of these companies claim on their websites that their products are completely legal because they are made from hemp and don’t have any psychoactive properties. The truth is they exist in a legal vacuum as long as they don’t market their products as drugs, which is why the FDA has stepped in.

The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 amended the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of “marijuana,” loosening the restrictions on strains of Cannabis sativa that are very low in THC. This has facilitated cultivation of hemp in the U.S., but a great deal of hemp still gets imported (1,138 metric tons in 2011) everyday from China, Canada and the EU. Before 2013, essentially all the hemp used for its fiber and seed was imported and regulated by the DEA. Since the Marijuana Tax of 1937, it has been legal to cultivate hemp with a DEA license, but the tight restrictions meant almost no one did it.

Cannabis sativa that is low in THC may still contain CBD, so whole-plant extracts of hemp grown for industrial purposes could make a product semi-rich in CBD, if done correctly. A cheap extraction process like steam distillation done on a sample of plant material that is mostly stalks and leaves might extract some CBD, but it can also extract unsafe pesticides and toxins absorbed from the soil.

Cannabis thrives in toxic soils and accumulates heavy metals, so the soils it grows in needs to be carefully selected and tested for pollutants. If grown in another country, especially one with lax environmental regulations, hemp products might be highly contaminated.

Source:  http://www.hightimes.com/  7th March 2015

A lack of guidance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency frustrated Colorado’s efforts to decide how to handle pesticides and pot.

State regulators have known since 2012 that marijuana was grown with potentially dangerous pesticides, but pressure from the industry and lack of guidance from federal authorities delayed their efforts to enact regulations, and they ultimately landed on a less restrictive approach than originally envisioned.

Three years of e-mails and records obtained by The Denver Post and dozens of interviews show state regulators struggled with the issue while the cannabis industry protested that proposed limits on pesticides would leave their valuable crops vulnerable to devastating disease.

Last year, as the state was preparing a list of allowable substances that would have restricted pesticides on marijuana to the least toxic chemicals, Colorado Department of Agriculture officials stopped the process under pressure from the industry, The Post found.

DENVER, CO – AUGUST 19: Lucas Targos the head grower at L’Eagle sprays the marijuana plants in their cultivation room on Wednesday August 19, 2015. They spray with neem oil which helps combat the spider mites and mildew. He sprays the plants every 7-10 days. This was the last spraying before they go into the flowering stage. Targos was an organic food farmer before working with marijuana. (Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post )

“This list has been circulated among marijuana producers and has been met with considerable opposition because of its restrictive nature,” wrote Mitch Yergert, the CDA’s plant industry director, shortly after the April 2014 decision. “There is an inherent conflict with the marijuana growers’ desire to use pesticides other than those” that are least restrictive.

Another year passed before regulators publicly released a draft list of pesticides allowed on marijuana plants — a broader, less restrictive list than initially proposed. That only occurred after the city of Denver began quarantining plants over concerns that pesticides posed a health hazard.

The marijuana industry “was the biggest obstacle we had” in devising any effective pesticide regulation, said former Colorado agriculture commissioner John Salazar.

“We were caught between a rock and a hard spot,” he said. “Anything we wanted to allow simply was not enough for that industry.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates pesticides, offered the state little advice about what to do because marijuana is an illegal crop under federal law.

“We tried to work with the EPA, to figure out what to do, but we got nothing,” Salazar said.

With little federal guidance and no science to know which pesticides might be safe for consumers, the department made pesticide inspections a low priority, records show.

“Our current policy is to investigate complaints related to MJ (marijuana), otherwise focus on higher priorities,” Laura Quakenbush, the CDA’s pesticide registration coordinator, wrote to a colleague in a December 2012 e-mail.

Critics say the state bowed to industry’s influence.

“Colorado has given the marijuana industry way too much power, way too much control over the political process,” said Kevin Sabet, co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that opposed legalizing marijuana.

“Regulators are trusting the industry and saying, ‘Show us how to regulate you.’ They’re putting their trust in the industry,” said Samantha Walsh, a lobbyist who has represented marijuana-testing labs and the unions representing workers at cannabis cultivation facilities.

“There’s been foot-dragging in much of the industry,” she said. “It’s a failure of the government to step in and institute these practices.”

State officials say it was important to take into account industry concerns.

“CDA felt there was a need to further explore all possibilities of how best to regulate and identify what pesticides could be legally used on marijuana. During this process, we believe we have identified a better way forward than what we originally proposed in April of 2014,” Yergert told The Post.

The agency is just now preparing for regular inspections of marijuana growers using pesticides, Yergert said, something it already does for other commercial users such as crop-dusting businesses. In July, the CDA began visiting marijuana businesses for “compliance assistance” that focuses on education and training.

And last week, Yergert said, the agency began a new rule-making process to formalize the list of pesticides growers can use.

Heavy-hitting pesticides

Marijuana and pesticides hit CDA’s radar in 2012 when a former employee of the Kine Mine, then a medical marijuana dispensary in Idaho Springs, complained to the state of not being given protective clothing to spray growing plants.

CDA inspectors found two heavy-hitting pesticides — Floramite and Avid — were used on dozens of cannabis plants.

The CDA cited the business with violating a pesticide’s label restrictions. The state was unable to do more because it had not yet determined which pesticides could and could not be used on cannabis in Colorado.

As commercial grow operations spread after recreational pot sale became legal in 2014, complaints continued to flow. Sales of recreational and medical marijuana reached nearly $700 million last year and topped $540 million through July. There are 600 pot-growing licenses in Denver alone.

“I think everyone thought marijuana growers were a bunch of organic growers who would never use pesticides on pot, but that’s definitely not the case,” said Mowgli Holmes, a molecular geneticist at Phylos Bioscience and board member of the Cannabis Safety Institute in Oregon. “A lot of this pesticide use is new and driven by commercial pressures.”

When large numbers of cannabis plants are grown indoors and in close proximity, they are vulnerable to mites and powdery mildews, which can destroy a crop quickly.

To date, there have been 24 inquiries into pesticide complaints involving marijuana businesses, CDA officials said.

Another early complaint came in 2012 when a consumer said a popular cannabis leaf wash for killing bugs claimed to be “99.9999%” water that worked because of an ionic charge.

A state lab found it actually contained high levels of “pyrethrin, a plant-based insecticide that requires EPA registration,” wrote Quakenbush, the CDA’s pesticide registration coordinator.

Officials determined that because the product label did not say that it contained a pesticide, they lacked authority over its use, according to e-mails. The state referred the mislabelling problem to the EPA for investigation, and the state did not look further into the issue.

But the case led state inspectors to send several e-mails to the EPA seeking guidance on how to handle the emerging pesticide problem. Officials also asked whether pesticides allowed on tobacco would suffice. The state received no response, according to e-mails the state provided.

The federal agency responded in an e-mail to The Post that “over the past several years, the U.S. EPA has had interactions with representatives from the Colorado Department of Agriculture on this issue” but provided no details.

Health impact

Colorado initially wanted to do as New Hampshire did, allowing only the least harmful pesticides to be used in marijuana cultivation.

Those included neem, cinnamon and peppermint oils — products so nontoxic that federal registration is not required and no tolerance level is necessary for their residues.

By restricting cannabis growers to those products, Colorado could adapt its rules over time as more information became known about the health impact of chemical residues from pesticides.

Before the sale of recreational pot became legal in 2014, “a majority in the industry’s underground didn’t have very sophisticated practices and were using lots of toxic things they shouldn’t have on a regular basis,” said Devin Liles, who runs The Farm cultivation facility in Boulder.

In April 2014, the CDA laid out the issue: “For food crops, a tolerance (of pesticide residues) must be established. No tolerances have been established for marijuana because they are not recognized as a legal ‘agricultural crop.’ “

Put simply, many pesticides that the marijuana industry was already using — some of them allowed by the EPA on food crops — were to be off the table.

Small, informal working group meetings were held in March and April. Liles said other members of a group on which he participated immediately were worried.

“Some operations were really concerned because what they were using was now on the chopping block,” he said, “and they didn’t know if it would become more restrictive later.”

The proposed rule was published, and a meeting during which stakeholders could speak was scheduled for that May.

“The Colorado Department of Agriculture does not recommend the use of any pesticide not specifically tested, labeled and assigned a set tolerance for use on marijuana because the health effects on consumers are unknown,” the proposed rule said.

Then in late April 2014, soon after CDA issued the proposed rule — and following two meetings where officials heard the industry’s reaction — the agency pulled the plug on its rule-making process.

“The termination will allow the agency more time to meet with the representative group of stakeholders and further review the impacts of the proposed rule,” according to the portion of the Colorado secretary of state’s website where the hearings are tracked.

“We continued to have conversations without having any resolution,” Ron Carle ton, CDA’s former deputy commissioner, said in an interview. “The industry was of the opinion they needed the same kind of access to pesticides that other growers were using, that this low-level stuff wouldn’t do it.”

CDA and the marijuana industry continued to wrangle. That June, CDA shared copies of an early, broadened draft list of approved pesticides with at least one industry group.

“The list never meant much because it was always in draft form, never formalized or finalized, and rule-making never occurred,” Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, told The Post in an e-mail.

At a CDA meeting with businesses in December, Elliott said growers were frustrated because they did not believe the state was giving them the tools necessary to fight the problems they faced.

“We need clean product, and we have a huge list of things to test for and failure could literally shut down a business,” he said.

Meanwhile, CDA continued its policy of not checking to see what pesticides marijuana growers were using unless someone complained.

“To date, CDA has not actively sought to inspect and enforce the provisions of the (Colorado) Pesticide Applicator’s Act on marijuana producers,” Yergert, CDA’s plant industry director, wrote in a memo for a meeting in December. The Pesticide Applicator’s Act is the state’s authority to enforce EPA pesticide laws.

The delays had Yergert worried that CDA’s inaction could be problematic.

“The last thing that I want is somebody to get sick and they say it was due to pesticide use” and that the state knew about it, he said at the December meeting with industry representatives. “None of us wants to be in front of that train.”

Turning up the heat

While state regulators and the industry debated how pesticides should be regulated, Denver was about to turn up the heat.

Denver firefighters conducting routine safety inspections of marijuana growhouses in early 2014 discovered some growers were burning sulphur as a fumigant to kill mites. Firefighters say that’s a fire hazard.

Once stopped from using the dangerous substance, the growers turned to pesticides, and firefighters noticed cabinets full of odd-sounding chemicals.

“They will do something to protect these million-dollars worth of plants,” said Lt. Tom Pastorius. “We stopped one issue with the sulphur. But that just led to a whole different issue.”

The city’s environmental health department responded by quarantining about 100,000 plants in March after application logs showed pesticides they knew little about. City health officials met with CDA and learned of the agency’s draft list of pesticides it said were OK to use.

The meeting prompted the state to release the list publicly. It was the first time growers say they were fully aware of what they could and could not use.

“At that time, we didn’t want to put the list out,” said John Scott, CDA’s pesticide program manager. “We were still working on the rule itself.”

But once Denver had quarantined the plants, “we felt like it couldn’t wait,” Scott said.

Pesticides on the list have labels so broadly written that the state determined their use on marijuana is permissible. However, CDA also says it does not recommend their use because no one knows whether the pesticides are safe when used on marijuana.

Three of the growers whose plants were quarantined fought back in court, suing the city for allegedly overextending its authority. Pesticides, the businesses argued, were the purview of CDA, not the city.

The industry also turned to the Colorado legislature and had a last-minute amendment designed to stop Denver’s enforcement added to a bill about marijuana tax revenues, according to documents and interviews.

It’s not the only example of marijuana growers looking toward the Capitol for help. Also during the last session, several legislators tried but failed to pass a law that would have removed pesticides entirely from the list of ingredients on marijuana product packages.

The enforcement amendment, which ensured that pesticide oversight of marijuana growers would stay with the state, was tacked on from the Senate floor on the day before it adjourned.

“The worry was that communities could basically ban the use of some pesticides based on emotional responses rather than factual ones,” said Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, the amendment’s sponsor. “It was to codify that the state was in charge, not Denver, not any city.”

The impetus for his amendment, Sonnenberg said, came primarily from conversations with three lobbyists who records show are with the Marijuana Industry Group.

Sonnenberg’s re-election committee had accepted about $1,000 in contributions from the three since 2010, according to state campaign finance records. In that time, he’s accepted about $1,800 from all marijuana-related contributors, records show. All contributions Sonnenberg received since 2010 totaled $49,900, according to state filings.

More broadly, the industry has spent at least $421,000 on lobbying on various cannabis-related issues this year, state reports show. In contrast, utility giant Xcel Energy has spent $230,640, according to the company. The city eventually won in court, but the amendment passed as well. Subsequent enforcement actions by Denver occurred at the retail level, far from where plants are actually covered in pesticides and where CDA’s pesticide authority extended.

The city declined to comment on the legislature’s action.

“What was most frustrating about what happened in Denver is that the city went from not participating in the statewide conversation and doing absolutely nothing to placing holds on businesses,” Elliott at MIG said in an interview. “We would have appreciated having them involved in the state process and perhaps having worked out more local solutions instead of coming down quickly with holds.”

Elliott paused, then offered: “That said, I understand why they reacted the way they did. They identified a safety issue and took action. Very little has been going on on this issue on a statewide level.”

Source: The Denver Post   4th Oct. 2015

John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., don’t seem to care much about the toll recreational marijuana imposes on Colorado. Each reacted with righteous indignation to the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Obama administration’s lax pot policies.

“It’s not a black market anymore. It’s not a criminal activity, and we would hate for the state to go backwards,” Hickenlooper said Thursday, expressing concern about the potential for more federal enforcement against our state’s illegal marijuana industry.

Gardner asserted his duty Thursday to protect the state’s “right” to sanction, host, and profit from an industry that flagrantly violates federal law to the detriment of traffic safety, federal lands, children, and neighboring states that are burdened by Colorado pot. Never mind that even the Obama policy emphasized a need for federal enforcement against drugged driving, damage to kids and neighboring states, and the presence of cartels and pot on federal land. Somehow, Colorado has a right to avoid these federal enforcement measures even the Obama administration wanted.

Colorado politicians need to stop pandering and start leading, which means telling the truth about the severely negative consequences of big commercial pot.

Hickenlooper, Gardner, and other politicians tell us everything is rosy, but that’s not what we hear from educators, cops, social workers, doctors, drug counselors, parents, and others in the trenches of the world’s first anything goes marijuana free-for-all. It is not what we see in the streets.

If Hickenlooper and Gardner cared to lead on this issue, they would tell the world about the rate of pot-involved traffic fatalities that began soaring in their state in direct correlation with the emergence of legal recreational pot and Big Marijuana. They would talk about Colorado’s status as a national leader in the growth of homelessness, which all major homeless shelter operators attribute to commercialized, recreational pot.

They would talk about the difficulty in keeping marijuana from crossing borders into states that don’t allow it. They would spread the words of classroom educators and resource officers who say pot consumption among teens is out of control.

Honest leaders would talk about illegal grow operations invading neighborhoods and public lands. They would stop selling false, positive impressions about a failed policy for the sake of “respecting the will of voters” who made a mistake. They would not follow public perception but would lead it in a truthful direction.

Hickenlooper says legalization has eliminated illegal pot in Colorado, which is laughable to men and women who enforce the law and talk to us.

El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder speaks of more than 550 illegal rural home-grow operations in El Paso County alone.

Mayor John Suthers — Colorado’s former U.S. attorney, attorney general, district prosecutor and state director of corrections — speaks of hundreds of illegal pot operations in Colorado Springs he hopes to raid. We could go on with countless accounts of leading law enforcers who describe illegal pot activity that exceeds limits of departmental budgets and personnel.

That’s the small stuff, relative to the massive black market Colorado’s legalization attracts to federal property.

Dave Condit, deputy forest and grassland supervisor for the Pike-San Isabel and Cimarron-Comanche National Grasslands, recently accompanied Forest Service officers on the raid of a Mexican cartel’s major grow operation west of Colorado Springs. It was among at least 17 busts of cartel operations in the past 18 months. He describes the type of operation mostly based in Mexico, before legalization made Colorado more attractive. Condit said the agency lacks resources to make a dent in the additional cartel activity in the region’s two national forests.

“It was eye opening to put on the camouflage and sneak through the woods at 4 in the morning,” Condit told The Gazette’s editorial board Friday. “I had no idea the scope of these plantations. These are huge farms hidden in the national forests. The cartels de-limb the trees, so there is some green left on them. Other trees are cut down. They fertilize the plants extensively, and not all these fertilizers and chemicals are legal in this area.

“This is different than anything we have experienced in the past. These massive plantations are not the work of someone moving in from out of state who’s going to grow a few plants or even try to grow a bunch of plants and sell them. These are massive supported plantations, with massive amounts of irrigation. The cartels create their own little reservoirs for water. These operations are guarded with armed processors. They have little buildings on site. The suspects we have captured on these grows have all been Mexican nationals.”

Condit said the black market invading Colorado’s national forests has grown so large the entire budget for the Pike and San Isabel forests would not cover the costs of removing and remediating cartel grows in the forests he helps supervise.

“There’s a massive amount of resource damage that has to be mitigated,” Condit said. “You’ve got facilities and structures that have to be deconstructed. We would need to bring in air support to get materials out of there. There are tens of thousands of plants that have to be destroyed.”

Condit hopes the Colorado Legislature will channel a portion of marijuana proceeds to the Forest Service to help pay for closure and reclamation of cartel operations.

“For every plantation we find, there are many more,” Condit said.

Authorities captured only two cartel suspects in the raid Condit witnessed, and others escaped by foot into the woods.

“This operation had a huge stockpile of food. Hundreds and hundreds of giant cans (of food), and stacks of tortillas two or three people could not consume in months,” Condit said. “So it appeared they were planning to bring in a large crew for the harvest. I wouldn’t have thought you could hide something like that in our woods, but you can.”

Officers seized a marijuana stash and plants worth an estimated $35 million that morning. Merely destroying the plants presented a significant expense.

“Whether you’re a recreational shooter, a weekend camper, or you’re going to walk your dog in the woods, you should be concerned,” Condit said. “Some of these people have guns. If you stumble into $35 million worth of illegal plants, I’d be concerned. We are concerned for our own personnel.”

That’s not the view of either Colorado senator, other pandering politicians or the state’s top executive. From their offices Washington and Denver, they see things quite differently.

“Now the people who cultivate marijuana, the people who process marijuana, the people who sell marijuana are not criminals,” Hickenlooper said Thursday. “They’re not committing any crimes.”

No black market? No crimes? Tell the cartels. They come to Marijuana Land in the wake of Amendment 64, wisely betting state leaders will defend their risky and unprecedented law no matter what. They count on politicians to look the other way, so they can tell the world their new system works.

The Colorado Springs Gazette is a sister newspaper to the Washington Examiner. This editorial originally ran there.

Source: Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board | Jan 10, 2018, 9:23 AM

There’s no future for salmon in Northern California’s Emerald Triangle.

On California’s northern coast are three counties that marijuana aficionados call the Emerald Triangle. In their view, the growers there have perfected a strain of cannabis that has high potency and consistently high quality. Result: There are many growers, most tending their crops in remote corners of these mountainous, heavily wooded counties.

This produces serious environmental damage. In Humboldt County where the largest amount of Emerald Triangle marijuana is grown, the sheriff’s office conducted an aerial survey and counted 4,000 visible outdoor grows, nearly all of them illegal. (California was the first of 22 states to permit medical use of marijuana, so some grows were established to serve users who have permit cards.)

The illegal grows are usually carved out of forest land (often national forests or acreage owned by timber companies). Typically, the growers clear-cut the trees on the land they want to use, then bulldoze it to their specifications. Next, they divert a nearby stream to provide the one to six gallons required daily by each plant. They then fertilize the plants, causing runoff. This is followed by a generous dose of rat poison.

The upshot: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a week ago declared that stream diversion by marijuana plantations was robbing the rivers that the streams feed of enough cool water for Coho salmon to breed, thus threatening their survival. California’s north coast is big salmon country, for both sport and commercial fishing. The declaration earned banner headlines in the local press.

This week the USFWS said that it was considering seeking a “Threatened” status for the fisher, a native cousin to the weasel. Many fishers have been dying after ingesting the rat poison put out by marijuana planters.

Disruption of the soil for planting the crop and for cutting roads to some of the remote locations causes runoff that silts the area’s rivers—another preventable threat to the already endangered native salmon and steelhead.

In the area, a multi-agency task force has raided, on average, one marijuana plantation a week since January 2013. The biggest one, in August this year, yielded 10,000 plants; most have had several hundred. The plants are destroyed. The “harvest” often yields cash, weapons, and, sometimes other drugs (although multi-drug hauls tend to found in in-town dealer houses).

In addition to the cost of the raids, “grows” on public land require public resources to clean up and restore the affected area.

Environmentalists in the three counties are quick to run to the battlements and declare all-out war any time the state Transportation Department sets out to widen a highway. With the regular pot plantation raids, however, they are as silent as mice. Occasionally, one will opine in an interview that the problem would go away if marijuana were made legal. This outcome seems unlikely. Large companies might buy up some tracts for growing (along with getting the necessary permits and paying taxes); however, not every small grower will be able to compete; hence, the likelihood they would feed a black market, selling to heavy users at below-market prices. Thus, one problem would yield to another.

Source:  American spectator 9th October 2014
www.drugwatch.org

The only thing green about that bud is its chlorophyll.

—By Josh HarkinsonBrett Brownell, and Julia Lurie

March/April 2014 Issue of Mother Jones

You thought your pot came from environmentally conscious hippies? Think again. The way marijuana is grown in America, it turns out, is anything but sustainable and organic. Check out these mind-blowing stats, and while you’re at it, read Josh Harkinson’s feature story, “The Landscape-Scarring, Energy-Sucking, Wildlife-Killing Reality of Pot Farming.”

 

Sources: Jon Gettman (2006), US Forest Service (California outdoor grow stats include small portions of Oregon and Nevada), Office of National Drug Control Policy, SF Public Utilities Commission, Evan Mills (2012).

UPDATE: Beau Kilmer of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center argues that the government estimates of domestic marijuana production used in this piece and many others are in fact too high. Kilmer’s research, published last week, suggests that total US marijuana consumption in 2010 (including pot from Mexico) was somewhere between 9.2 and 18.5 million pounds.

Source:  https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/marijuana-pot-weed-statistics-climate-change/

Washington’s pot is a bit more potent than the national average. And the state’s teens are more likely to smoke marijuana than young people nationwide.

Although we have the same problems with marijuana as we do with liquor abuse, no blockbuster conclusions came from a recent report on Washington’s marijuana universe.

But a couple of somewhat unexpected environmental wrinkles from Washington’s marijuana industry — both legal and illegal — also emerge in the second annual look at the state’s experience since passage of a 2012 initiative allowing recreational pot sales.

Marijuana growers and processors use 1.63 percent of the state’s electricity, which is a lot, according to the report by the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area — a combined effort by several federal, state and local government agencies. By way of comparison, all forms of lighting — in homes, commercial buildings and manufacturing — account for just 7 to 11 percent of electrical consumption nationally. Or, as the report puts it, the power is enough for 2 million homes.

The high power consumption stems from the heat lamps and the accompanying air conditioning for indoor marijuana growing operations. “They are exceedingly energy-consumptive,” said Steven Freng, manager for prevention and treatment for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

The carbon footprint, according to the report, equals that of about 3 million cars.

And illegal pot growers siphoned off 43.2 million gallons of water from streams and aquifers during the 2016 growing season — water that tribes, farmers and cities would otherwise use as carefully as possible, in part to protect salmon.

Sixty percent of Washington’s illegal pot was grown on state-owned land in 2016. That’s because black-market growers tend to worry about gun-toting owners on private lands, according to Freng and Luci McKean, the organization’s deputy director. The black-market operations use the water during a roughly 120-day growing season.

Marijuana purchases have boomed in Washington. Legal marijuana sales were almost $1 billion in fiscal year 2016 and were on track to be about $1.5 billion in fiscal 2017, which ended June 30. As of February, the state had 1,121 licensed producers, 1,106 licensed processors and 470 licensed retailers.

What Washington’s marijuana users are getting is above average in potency. According to the report, nationwide marijuana products average a THC percentage of 13.2 percent, while Washington state’s THC average percentage was 21.6 percent.

Teen use of marijuana has grown slightly. Depending on how the numbers are crunched, marijuana use among Washington’s young adults and teens ranges from 2 to 5 percent above the national average. Five percent of Washingtonians age 18-to-25 use pot daily, slightly above the national average, the report said.

According to a survey cited in the report, 17 percent of high school seniors and 9 percent of high school sophomores have driven within three hours after smoking pot.

Adult use before driving is still a fuzzy picture. A third of Washingtonians arrested for driving under the influence had THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in their bloodstreams. One study found an increase in dead drivers with THC above the legal limit in their blood from 7.8 percent in 2013 to 12.8 percent in 2014.

“Adults still don’t understand the effects of impairment behind the wheel of a car,” Freng said.

McKean said that one major unknown is marijuana-laced edibles, which authorities believe have become a significant factor in THC-impaired drivers, but has not been studied enough to provide solid numbers.

Another major unknown, McKean and Freng said, is how marijuana consumption contributes to emergency room and hospital cases because the state hospitals have not agreed to release that data to government officials.

Source: http://crosscut.com/2017/10/washingtons-pot-industry-not-environmentally-friendly-marijuana/

Background

On August 29, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued guidelines to Federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials regarding where to focus their drug enforcement efforts in states that have passed laws legalizing the retail sales of marijuana. The so-called “Cole Memo” directs enforcement officials to focus resources, including prosecutions, “on persons and organizations whose conduct interferes with any one or more of [eight] priorities, regardless of state law.”

Per the memorandum, the eight DOJ priorities are:

● Preventing distribution of marijuana to minors

● Preventing marijuana revenue from funding criminal enterprises, gangs or cartels

● Preventing marijuana from moving out of states where it is legal

● Preventing use of state-legal marijuana sales as a cover for illegal activity

● Preventing violence and use of firearms in growing or distributing marijuana

● Preventing drugged driving or exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use

● Preventing growing marijuana on public lands

● Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property

According to the Department of Justice, the Federal “hands-off” approach to marijuana enforcement enumerated in the Cole Memo is contingent on its expectation that “states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health, and other law enforcement interests.

A system adequate to that task must not only contain robust controls and procedures on paper, it must also be effective in practice.”

Unfortunately, since Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational sale of marijuana in 2012, evidence has emerged that regulations intended to control the sale and use of marijuana have failed to meet the promises made by advocates for legalization.

For example, states with legal marijuana are seeing an increase in drugged driving crashes and youth marijuana use. States that have legalized marijuana are also failing to shore up state budget shortfalls with marijuana taxes, continuing to see a thriving illegal black market, and are experiencing an unabated sales of alcohol, despite campaign promises from advocates promising that marijuana would be used as a “safer” alternative instead.

Moreover, state regulatory frameworks established post-legalization have failed to meet each of the specific DOJ requirements on controlling recreational marijuana production, distribution, and use.

While long-term studies and research on the public health and safety impacts of marijuana legalization are ongoing, this report provides a partial census of readily available information that demonstrates how Colorado, Oregon, and Washington State –

the jurisdictions with the most mature regulatory markets and schemes – have not fulfilled the requirements of the Cole Memo.

DOJ Guideline 1: “Preventing distribution of marijuana to minors”

● According to the nation’s largest and most comprehensive survey of drug use trends in the nation, past-month use of marijuana among 12 to 17-year-olds in Colorado increased significantly – from 9.82% to 12.56% after marijuana retail sales began (Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012 and implemented legal marijuana stores in 2014).

The same study notes that teens and adults in Colorado now use marijuana at a higher rate than the rest of the country. No other representative sample of drug users in Colorado has contradicted this sample.

● A 2017 study from the University of Colorado found that marijuana-related emergency room visits and visits to its satellite urgent care centers by teens in Colorado more than quadrupled after the state legalized marijuana.

● In Colorado, a new report from the state’s public safety agency reveals that after the state legalized the drug, marijuana-related arrests for black and Hispanic youth rose by 58% and 29% respectively, while arrest rates for white kids dropped by eight percent. School Resource Officers in Colorado have reported a substantial increase in marijuana-related offenses in Colorado schools after the state commercialized the drug.

● According to data from the State of Washington, there have been over 240 violations of legal marijuana sales to minors and of minors frequenting restricted marijuana sales areas as of July 2017. ● Youth use – among 8th and 10th graders at least – is increasing in Washington State. According to a special analysis of teenage drug use published in the peer-reviewed, highly regarded Journal of American Medical Association Pediatrics, the perceived  harmfulness of marijuana in Washington declined 14.2% and 16.1% among eighth and 10th graders, respectively, while marijuana use increased 2.0% and 4.1% from 2010-2012 to 2013-2015.

● According to the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction during 2013-2014, 48 percent of statewide student expulsions were for marijuana in comparison to alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs. During the 2014-2015 school year, statewide student expulsions for marijuana increased to 60 percent. Marijuana related suspensions for the 2013-2014 school year reported 42 percent and for the 2014-2015 school year, suspensions increased to 49 percent.

● In Washington State, youth (12-17) accounted for 64.9% of all state marijuana seizures in 2015 as compared to 29.9% in 2010, according to data from the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS).

● From 2012 to 2016, reported exposure calls for marijuana increased 105 percent in Washington. According to the 2016 Annual Cannabis Toxic Trends Report, of exposures related to children under the age of five, 73 percent occurred in those one to three years of age. The counties with the highest reported exposures for both 2015 and 2016 were: King, Spokane, Snohomish, and Pierce.

DOJ Guideline 2: “Preventing revenue of the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels”

● In June 2017, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman announced a takedown of a massive illegal marijuana trafficking ring in Colorado. The bust is the largest since legalization and indicted 62 individuals and 12 businesses in Colorado. The operation stretched into other states including Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, Ohio and Oklahoma.

● In March 2017, a leaked report from the Oregon State Police uncovered evidence from state officials that the black market for marijuana continues to thrive in the state. The 39-page report noted that, “The illicit exportation of cannabis must be stemmed as it undermines the spirit of the law and the integrity of the legal market…it steals economic power from the market, the government, and the citizens of Oregon, and furnishes it to criminals, thereby tarnishing state compliance efforts.”

Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Instruction. (2016, Jan. 26). Behavior Report. http://www.k12.wa.us/SafetyCenter/Behavior/default.aspx

Washington State Poison Center – Toxic Trends Report: 2016 Annual Cannabis Report

● In 2016, Seattle Police spokesman Sean Whitcomb noted that “large-scale illegal grow operations… are still prevalent in Seattle, and we do come across those with a degree of frequency.” DOJ Guideline 3: “Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states”

● In 2014, two states – Nebraska and Oklahoma – sued their neighbor state of Colorado by citing evidence of increased marijuana flowing into those states. Law enforcement officials have reported a substantial increase in marijuana flow across state borders into neighboring states.

● In 2016, there were multiple raids conducted by state law enforcement in Colorado, leading authorities to seize more than 22,0000 pounds of marijuana intended for sales outside of Colorado.

● According to the Oregon State Police, the state has an “expansive geographic footprint” on marijuana exports across the U.S. Several counties in Oregon including Jackson, Multnomah, Josephine, Lane, Deschutes and Washington “lead the way” in supplying marijuana to states where it is not legal.

● According to the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force, “there were 360 seizures of marijuana in Colorado destined for other states. This is nearly a 600% increase in the number of individual stops in a decade, seizing about 3,671 pounds in 2014. Of the 360 seizures reported in 2014, 36 different states were identified as destinations, the most common being Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma and Florida.”

● Law enforcement officials report that since legalization in 2012, Washington State marijuana has been found to be destined for 38 different states throughout the United States. Between 2012 and 2017, 8,242.39 kilograms (18,171.35 pounds) have been seized in 733 individual seizure events across 38 states. From 2012 to 2016, 470 pounds of marijuana have been seized on Washington State highways and interstates. Since 2012, 320 pounds of Washington State-origin marijuana have been seized during attempted parcel diversions. DOJ Guideline 4: “Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity”

● According to Jorge Duque from the Colorado Department of Law, cartels operating in Colorado are now “trading drugs like heroin for marijuana,” and the trade has since opened the door to drug and human trafficking. Duque also explains that money 5 laundering is a growing problem as “cartels are often disguising their money through legally purchasing marijuana or buying houses and growing marijuana in it.”

● In June 2017, a former Colorado marijuana enforcement officer and a Denver-based marijuana entrepreneur were indicted for running a statewide marijuana trafficking ring that illegally produced and sold “millions of dollars worth of marijuana across state lines.” This trafficking organization obtained 14 marijuana licenses in order to present their activities as protected business endeavors, despite “never ma[king] a single legal sale of cannabis in their two years of operation.”

● In Oregon, State Police officials report that criminals are exploiting Oregon’s legal marijuana industry for financial crimes and fraud. In one example, according to the Oregon State Police report, “Tisha Silver of Cannacea Medical Marijuana Dispensary falsified licensing to solicit investors and worked with Green Rush Consulting to locate unwitting investors. Silver exploited the burgeoning cannabis industry in the state to entice investors to back an illegitimate company, securing a quarter of a million dollars in fraudulent gains. According to some analysts, cannabis investors fell prey to ‘pump and dump’ schemes and lost up to $23.3 billion in 2014 alone.”

● Officials in Oregon note that the U.S. Postal Service is being exploited to ship marijuana products and revenue. According to former Attorney General Eric Holder, “The Postal Service is being used to facilitate drug dealing,” a clear violation of federal law and a violation of the sanctity of the U.S. mailing system.

DOJ Guideline 5: “Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana”

● While crime rates dropped or remained stable in many of the nation’s largest cities, Colorado’s crime rate increased. There has been an increase in rape, murder, robbery and auto thefts. While it is not possible to link legalization to a direct change in crime rates, officials in Colorado cited marijuana legalization as one of the reasons behind the rise.

● In Colorado, prosecutors are reporting an increase in marijuana-related homicides since the state legalized the drug.  This situation is detailed here: http://www.oregonlive.com/marijuana/index.ssf/2016/07/state_slaps_portland_dispensar.h tml.

Other instances of fraud have been discussed here: Sapient Investigations Newsletters (2015, Feb. 10) “High Times for Fraud,” available online at https://sapientinvestigations.com/spi-news/high-times-for-fraud/

● In Oregon, state police report that, “Cannabis is a lucrative target for robbery. As recently as December 2016, a state-licensed cannabis producer was targeted for a violent armed robbery. In the aforementioned case, a well-known cannabis grower in Jackson County was assaulted, bound, and his harvest was taken by armed assailants.”

● In Prince George’s County Maryland, Police Chief Henry Stawinski noted a significant rise in marijuana-related homicides since neighboring D.C. legalized the drug. Stawinski said 19 homicides in 2016 were related to marijuana.

DOJ Guideline 6:  “Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other public health consequences associated with marijuana use”

● Drugged driving has increased in states with legal marijuana sales. According to a study published by the American Automobile Association, fatal drugged driving crashes doubled in Washington State after the state legalized marijuana. The Governors Highway Safety Association also notes a disturbing rise in drugged driving crashes even as alcohol-related crashes are declining.

● A Denver Post analysis found the number of marijuana-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado more than doubled since 2013, the year after the state voted to legalize recreational marijuana use. Colorado saw a 145 percent increase in the number of marijuana-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes between 2013 and 2016. Marijuana is also figuring into more of Colorado’s fatal crashes overall: in 2013, marijuana-impaired drivers accounted for 10 percent of all fatal crashes, but by 2016 it reached 20 percent.

● According to a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, poison control calls for children more than tripled after marijuana legalization. Much of this is linked to a boom in the sale of marijuana “edibles.” THC concentrate is mixed into almost any type of food or drink, including gummy candy, soda, and lollipops. Today, these edibles comprise at least half of Colorado’s marijuana market.

● In Washington State, the number of marijuana-involved DUIs are increasing with 38 percent of total cases submitted in 2016 testing above the five nanogram per milliliter of blood legal limit for those over the age of twenty-one. In addition, 10 percent of drivers involved in a fatal accident from 2010 to 2014 were THC-positive.

● A study by the Highway Loss Data Institute reveals that Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have experienced three percent more collision claims overall than would ( NWHIDTA Drug Threat Assessment For Program Year 2018)  have been expected without legalization.

Colorado witnessed the largest jump in claims. The state experienced a rate 14 percent higher than neighboring states.

● In Washington State, from 2012 to 2016, calls to poison control centers increased by 79.48%. Exposures increased 19.65% from the time of marijuana commercialization in 2014 to 2016. Of the marijuana calls answered by the Poison Center in 2016, youth under the age of 20 accounted for almost 40% of all calls.

According to the 2016 Annual Cannabis Toxic Trends Report, 42% of the calls reported were for persons aged 13 to 29. Additionally, among exposures related to children under the age of five, 73% involved children one to three years of age. The counties with the highest reported number of exposures for 2015 remained in the top four for 2016: King, Spokane, Snohomish, and Pierce.

DOJ Guideline 7: “Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana on public lands”

● In Washington State, 373,778 marijuana plants were found growing illegally on public and private lands between 2012 and 2016. Of the illegal marijuana plants eradicated in 2016, 60% were being cultivated on state land, and the 58,604 illegal marijuana plants eradicated in 2016 consumed an estimated 43.2 million gallons of water over a full growing season (120-day cycle).

More than 400 pounds of fertilizers, chemicals, and pesticides were removed from illegal marijuana growing operations in 2016, and Furadan, a neurotoxin that is extremely dangerous to humans, was found in an illegal marijuana growing operation the same year.

● In June 2017, Colorado officials found more than 7,000 illegal plants on federal land in the state’s San Isabel National Forest. This was the fifth illegal grow found in that area alone since the year marijuana legalization passed, demonstrating legalization has not curbed the problem of grows exploiting public lands.

● In Oregon, the legalization of marijuana in the state has failed to eliminate illegal growing operations and public lands continue to be exploited despite a legal market. According to a report from state officials, “To date in Oregon, cannabis legalization has not had a noticeable influence on Mexican National [Drug Trafficking Organizations] illicit cannabis cultivation operations on public lands… leaving a lasting scar on Oregon’s unique ecosystems.

Illicit cannabis grows employ excessive amounts of pesticides, rodenticides, and herbicides, thereby threatening local wildlife habitats. Additionally, many illicit grow sites clear-cut timber, furthering soil erosion and water contamination. Research on the environmental impact of illicit cannabis grows indicates that grows tend to be bunched near water sources, resulting in disproportionate impacts on ecologically important areas…

Oregon is robbed of roughly 122 Olympic swimming pools 8 worth of water annually, or roughly 442,200 gallons of water daily during the growth season.”

DOJ Guideline 8: “Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property”

● Advocates for legal marijuana frequently flout federal laws by possessing and using marijuana on federal properties purportedly in acts of civil disobedience. In January 2017, one group gave away free marijuana in Washington, D.C. to smoke on the National Mall during the inauguration of President Trump. On April 24, 2017, four activists were arrested after purposely flouting federal law and publicly using marijuana on U.S. Capitol grounds.

Conclusion and Key Recommendations

Federal resources should target the big players in the marijuana industry. Individual marijuana users should not be targeted or arrested, but large-scale marijuana businesses, several of which now boast of having raised over $100 million in capital, and their financial backers, should be a priority. These large businesses are pocketing millions by flouting federal law, deceiving Americans about the risks of their products, and targeting the most vulnerable.

They should not have access to banks, where their financial prowess would be expanded significantly, nor should they be able to advertise or commercialize marijuana.

These businesses target many of the marijuana products they sell toward kids, such as pot candies, cookies, and ice cream. And despite state regulations, these products continue to have problems with contamination. Recently, one of the largest, most sophisticated manufacturers of these pot “edibles” was forced to recall a number of products because they contained non-food-grade ingredients.

Additionally, the black market continues unabated in legalized states. A leaked report from Oregon police showed that at least 70 percent of that state’s marijuana market is illegal, despite legalization. In June 2017, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said, “The black market for marijuana has not gone away since recreational marijuana was legalized in our state, and in fact continues to flourish.”

Further, state-legal businesses have acted as top cover for these illegal operations, as recent large-scale arrests in Colorado have shown. These large marijuana operations, which combine the tactics of Big Tobacco with black marketeering, should form the focus of federal law enforcement, not individual users.  Recalls are becoming more commonplace because of pesticides, moulds, and other issues.

See The Denver Post for news stories related to these recalls in legalized states: http://www.thecannabist.co/tag/marijuana-recall/

At the same time, the federal government along with non-government partners should implement a strong, evidence-based marijuana information campaign, similar to the truth ® campaign for tobacco, which alerts all Americans about the harms of marijuana and the deceitful practices of the marijuana industry.

Marijuana sales have created an economic boom in U.S. states that have fully or partially relaxed their cannabis laws, but is the increased cultivation and sale of this crop also creating escalating environmental damage and a threat to public health?

In an opinion piece published by the journal Environmental Science and Technology, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Lancaster University in the U.K. have called on U.S. federal agencies to fund studies that will gather essential environmental data from the legal cultivation farms and facilities.

This information could then be used to help U.S. states minimize any environmental and public health damage caused by this burgeoning industry and aid legal marijuana growers in making their business environmentally sustainable.

State-by-state legalization is effectively creating a new industry in U.S., one that looks set to rival all but the largest of current businesses. In Colorado alone, sales revenues have reached $1 billion, roughly equal to that from grain farming in the state. By 2020 it is estimated that country-wide legal marijuana sales will generate more annual revenue than the National Football League.

But the article, titled “High Time to Assess the Environmental Impacts of Cannabis Cultivation” co-authored by William Vizuete, associate professor of environment sciences and engineering at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public health and Kirsti Ashworth, research fellow at Lancaster University’s Lancaster Environment Centre say that this expanded cultivation carries with it serious environmental effects.

Their article points out that cannabis is an especially needy crop requiring high temperatures (25-30 °C for indoor operations), strong light, highly fertile soil and large volumes of water — around twice that of wine grapes. In addition, the authors state that the few available studies of marijuana cultivation have uncovered potentially significant environmental impacts due to excessive water and energy demands and local contamination of water, air, and soil.

For example, a study of illegal outdoor grow operations in northern California found that rates of water extraction from streams threatened aquatic ecosystems. High levels of growth nutrients, as well as pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, also found their way back into the local environment, further damaging aquatic wildlife.

Controlling the indoor growing environment requires considerable energy with power requirements estimated to be similar to that of Google’s massive data centers. No significant data has been collected on the air pollution impacts on worker’s public health inside these growing facilities or the degradation of outdoor air quality due to emissions produced by the industrial scale production of marijuana.

The authors emphasize, however, much of the data on marijuana cultivation to date has come from monitoring illegal cannabis growing operations.

Dr Ashworth of Lancaster Environment Centre said: “The illegal status of marijuana has prevented us from understanding the detrimental impacts that this industrial scale operation has on the environment and public health.”

“This is an industry undergoing a historic transition, presenting an historic opportunity to be identified as a progressive, world-leading example of good practice and environmental stewardship.”

The continued expansion of legalization by the states does offer significant opportunities for the US Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National

Institutes of Health (NIH, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to fund research into legal cannabis cultivation to protect the environment.

“Generating accurate data in all the areas we discussed offers significant potential to reduce energy consumption and environmental harm, protect public health and ultimately, improve cultivation methods,” said Dr Vizuete . “There are also significant potential public health issues caused by emissions from the plants themselves rather than smoking it. These emissions cause both indoor and outdoor air pollution.”

Story Source: Materials provided by Lancaster University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

K. Ashworth, W. Vizuete. High Time to Assess the Environmental Impacts of Cannabis Cultivation. Environmental Science & Technology, 2017; 10.1021/acs.est.6b06343DOI:

Source:   ScienceDaily, 21 February 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170221081736.htm>.

Drug trade’s efforts to launder profits by creating agricultural land results in loss of millions of acres, researchers say.

A hillside in Jocotán, eastern Guatemala, damaged by deforestation. Photograph: Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images

Cocaine traffickers attempting to launder their profits are responsible for the disappearance of millions of acres of tropical forest across large swaths of Central America, according to a report. The study, published on Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, found that drug trafficking was responsible for up to 30% of annual deforestation in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, turning biodiverse forest into agricultural land.

The study’s lead author, Dr Steven Sesnie from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, said: “Most of the ‘narco-driven’ deforestation we identified happened in biodiverse moist forest areas, and around 30-60% of the annual loss happened within established protected areas, threatening conservation efforts to maintain forest carbon sinks, ecological services, and rural and indigenous livelihoods.”

The research, which used annual deforestation estimates from 2001 to 2014, focuses on six Central American countries – Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. It estimates the role of drug trafficking, as opposed to drug cultivation, in deforestation for the first time.

“As the drugs move north their value increases and the traffickers and cartels are looking for ways to move this money into the legal economy. Purchasing forest and turning it into agricultural land is one of the main ways they do that,” said Sesnie. He said the US-led crackdown on drug cartels in Mexico and the Caribbean in the early 2000s concentrated cocaine trafficking activities through the Central American corridor.

“Now roughly 86% of the cocaine trafficked globally moves through Central America on its way to North American consumers, leaving an estimated $6bn US dollars in illegal profits in the region annually.”

This had led to the loss of millions of acres of tropical forest over a decade as drugs cartels laundered their profits, Sesnie said.

“Our results highlight the key threats to remaining moist tropical forest and protected areas in Central America,” he said, adding that remote forest areas with “low socioeconomic development” were particularly at risk.

The report calls for drugs and environment policy – nationally and internationally – to be integrated “to ensure that deforestation pressures on globally significant biodiversity sites are not intensified by … supply-side drug policies in the region”.

Source:  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/16/drug-money-traffickers-destroying-swaths-forest-central-america    

 

Business Insider published a harrowing account of the expansion of illegal marijuana grows on public lands in California and the ways these grows are damaging the environment. “The lethal poisons these growers use to protect their crops and campsites from pests are annihilating wildlife, polluting pristine public lands, and maybe even turning up in your next bong hit,” writes Julian Smith, the report’s author. He follows agents from several federal and state agencies assigned to eliminate illegal grows and clean up the areas they have damaged. The agents’ lives are endangered not only from armed growers who may be present at the sites but from pesticides and rodenticides that are so toxic they are banned in the US, Canada, and the EU. Containers of a neurotoxic insecticide called carbofuran, for example, are often strewn around such sites. It can cause such symptoms as nausea, blurred vision, convulsions, and death. Small animals who eat the poison can pass it on to larger animals. One study of barred owls in the Pacific Northwest found 80 percent tested positive for such pesticides. Agents are concerned that the poisons used in grow sites could contaminate the water supply of cities and towns downstream. The author says  nationwide  legalization  would bring an end to illegal grows.  However, states that have legalized find illegal grows increase so growers can undercut the cost of commercial marijuana.

Source:    We recommend you read full story at:  http://finance.yahoo.com/news/cartels-growing-marijuana-illegally-california-194700553.html   8th April 2017  

Outdoor cannabis cultivation in northern California has damaged forestlands and their inhabitants. Will legalization of recreational marijuana make things worse or better?

A visit to a marijuana farm in Willow Creek, the heart of northern California’s so-called Emerald Triangle feels like strolling through an orchard. At 16 feet high and eight feet around, its 99 plants are too overloaded with cannabis buds to stand on their own. Instead each plant has an aluminium cage for support.

Welcome to America’s “pot basket.” The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration estimates 60 percent of cannabis consumed nationwide is grown in California. According to the Department of Justice, the bulk of that comes from the three upstate counties of the Emerald Triangle: Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity. Conditions here are said to be perfect for outdoor marijuana cultivation. But that has proved to be a very mixed blessing for the region, bringing with it a litany of environmental disturbances to local waterways and wildlife. Creek diversions threaten fish habitat and spur toxic algal blooms. Road building and clear-cuts erode soil and cloud streams. Deep within, illegal “guerilla grows” pepper forestlands with banned rodent poisons that are intended to eradicate crop pests but are also fatal to other mammals.

On November 8 voters in four states—Massachusetts, Maine, California and Nevada—legalized recreational marijuana. These states join Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, along with the District of Columbia, where one can already legally buy the drug for recreational use. Will this expanded market mean more environmental damage? Or will legalization pave the way for sounder regulation?

In 1996 California legalized marijuana for medical use, providing the first legal space for pot cultivation since the federal government’s blanket ban on the crop some 60 years before. As grow operations in the state flourished, California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Scott Bauer analyzed satellite imagery to examine the impact of cultivation on water levels in four Emerald Triangle watersheds. His study, published in PLoS ONE in 2015, found that in three of the four watersheds, “water demand for marijuana cultivation exceeds stream flow during the low-flow [summer] periods.”

The real problem is not marijuana’s overall water consumption, which still falls far short of California staples like walnuts or almonds, explains environmental scientist Van Butsic of the University of California, Berkeley. Rather it is an issue of where and when pot is

grown. Analyzing aerial imagery of 4,428 grow sites in 60 Humboldt county watersheds, Butsic found that one in 20 grow sites sat within 100 meters of fish habitat and one in five were located on steep land with a slope of 17 degrees or more. “The problem is that cannabis is being grown in the headwaters, and much of the watering is happening in the summer,” Butsic says.

If that arrangement goes on unchecked, U.C. Berkeley ecologist Mary Powers warns, summer plantations could transform local rivers from cool and “salmon-sustaining” to systems full of toxic cyanobacteria. Over eons of evolution native salmon species have adapted to “deluge or drought” conditions, she says. But the double whammy of climate change and water extraction could prove to be a game-changer.

Powers spelled out the unprecedented stresses in a 2015 conference paper focused on the Eel River that flows through Mendocino and southern Humboldt. She and her team found riverbed-scouring floods in winter, followed by dry, low-flow conditions in summer, led to warm, stagnant, barely connected pools of water. That is bad news for salmon, but ideal for early summer algal blooms. The algae then rot, creating an oxygen-deficient paradise for toxic cyanobacteria, which have been implicated in the poisoning deaths of 11 dogs along the Eel River since 2002.

Dogs are not the only terrestrial creatures endangered by the grow operations. Between 2008 and 2013 Mourad Gabriel, then a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Genetics Lab, carried out a study of the American fisher, a small carnivorous mammal that is a candidate for the endangered species list. He wanted to suss out the threats to fisher populations in northern California. So he radio-tagged fishers from Trinity County’s Hoopa Valley Reservation and public lands near Yosemite National Park to track their movements. Between 2006 and 2011, 58 of the fishers Gabriel and his team tracked turned up dead. Gabriel studied the necropsies and found that 46 of the animals had been exposed to anticoagulant rodenticides—rat poisons that block liver enzymes, which enable blood clotting. Without the enzyme the exposed mammals bled to death from flesh wounds.

The finding puzzled Gabriel at first, because rat poison is more common in agricultural and urban settings than in remote forests. But then he started visiting the remnants of guerilla grows that had been busted under the guidance of lawmen such as Omar Brown, head of the Narcotics Division at the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office. “We have found [anticoagulant rodenticides] carbofuron on grows in the national forest,” Brown reports. “These are neurotoxin-laced pesticides that have been banned in the U.S. since 2011. And even for allowed pesticides, we’ve found instances where trespass grows are using them in illegally large quantities.” The poisons hit female fishers particularly hard, because the early, pest-prone phase of marijuana cultivation coincides with the fishers’ nesting season, when pregnant females are actively foraging.

Gabriel, now director of the Integral Ecology Research Center based in Humboldt County, says other states may be dealing with rodenticides, water diversions and other problems from guerilla grows, too. “The climate in Colorado, Oregon and Washington is conducive for marijuana cultivation,” he observes. But “there just isn’t the scientific data to prove whether other states have these problems because there has not been research funding put towards answering these questions.”

In California headwater ecosystems could get a reprieve if a greatly expanded legalized pot industry moves to the Central Valley, where production could take place indoors and costs would be less. In pot-growing pioneer states like Colorado or Washington much of the production has moved indoors, where temperatures can be more closely managed. But other factors may hinder that move. “Bud and pest problems are always worse indoors, which biases farmers toward a chemically intensive regime,” says Marie

Peterson of Downriver Consulting, a Weaverville, Calif.–based firm that helps growers fill out the paperwork for state and county permits as well as assesses water management plans for their plantations. And besides, the Central Valley already suffers from prolonged drought.

Of the eight states that legalized the cultivation of recreational marijuana, only Oregon and California allow outdoor grows. But regulating open-air pot plantations in these states remains challenging, even though legal operations for medical marijuana have been around since 1998 and 1996, respectively. In 2015 California passed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, which calls on the state’s departments of Food and Agriculture, Pesticide Regulation, and Fish and Wildlife, along with the state’s Water Board—to oversee environmental impacts of the industry. The board came up with a list of requirements for a marijuana plantation water permit, which in turn became a necessary condition for a license to grow medical pot in any of the three Emerald Triangle counties. Counties have until January 2018 to decide whether to create similar stipulations for recreational marijuana growing permits.

Butsic is optimistic about a more regulated future for the marijuana industry in California. “I think five years from now things will be more sustainable. Permitting shows growers that the state is interested in water use and their crop.”

Source:  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/burgeoning-marijuana-market-prompts-concerns-about-crop-rsquo-s-environmental-impact/  2nd Feb. 2017

The California National Guard on Monday joined more than a dozen other agencies to help the Yurok tribe combat rampant marijuana grows that have threatened the reservation’s water supply, harmed its salmon and interfered with cultural ceremonies.

Law-enforcement officers began serving search warrants at about 9 a.m. in the operation, which came at the request of Yurok officials and targeted properties in and near the reservation along the Klamath River.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Drug Enforcement Unit coordinated the raid and was joined by, among others, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Justice’s North State Marijuana Investigation Team, and Yurok police.

State environmental scientists were standing by to enter the properties and survey for damage once the sites were secured.

Yurok Tribal Chairman Thomas O’Rourke joined officers as they staged at a hillside fire station Monday morning and thanked them for assisting in what was dubbed “Operation Yurok.”

“They’re stealing millions and millions of gallons of water and it’s impacting our ecosystem,” he told the officers. “We can no longer make it into our dance places, our women and children can’t leave the road to gather. We can’t hunt. We can’t live the life we’ve lived for thousands of years.”

California’s largest tribe has sought help combating marijuana grows in the past but until now never received such a vigorous response. Then the drought hit.

The strains on dual water systems that serve 200 households and rely entirely on surface water became apparent last summer, when residents began complaining of plummeting pressure.

When tribal staff surveyed the land from a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, they were startled at the number of grows. By this summer they had tripled, officials estimated. And when the marijuana crop was planted in late spring, community water gauges once again swung low.

This time, creeks ran dry.

“Streams I’ve seen in prior years with more severe droughts where water ran, there’s no water now,” said O’Rourke.

To strengthen its enforcement abilities, the tribal council last fall approved a new controlled-substance ordinance that allow for civil forfeiture in circumstances where cultivation has harmed the environment.

(All growing on the reservation is illegal, as the Yurok tribe does not honor state medical-marijuana law.)

The breakthrough came in April when staffers from the governor’s office were discussing the drought with tribal officials. Gov. Jerry Brown, tribal officials were told, had pressed for California National Guard assistance with marijuana eradication and specifically urged the Office of the Adjutant General to assist in the Yurok operation, said Capt. Pat Bagley, operations officer in charge at the scene.

He was expecting to haul out two miles of irrigation hose at one grow alone.

For the Yurok, the damage is broad. Sediment and chemical runoff have suffocated juvenile fish, and warmer, shallower water has triggered an increase in the parasite Ceratomyxa shasta, which targets salmon.

Rodenticide has poisoned the Humboldt marten and weasel-like fisher, which the Yurok consider sacred. The danger of encroaching on a guarded grow site has made it unwise to gather medicine, acorns and materials for baskets, or to prepare sites for ceremonial dances.

Source:  www.seattletimes.com  21st July 2014

On July 28 and July 29, agents of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office assisted by the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) and the United States Forest Service (USFS) responded to USFS property on Brush Mountain, Gainor Peak and Oak Knob in eastern Humboldt County after sighting marijuana being cultivated on USFS land. The deputies were also accompanied by three scientists, two from Integral Ecology Research Center, and one associated with UC Davis and Hoopa Tribal Wildlife Ecologist.

During the two days deputies seized 3,760 marijuana plants ranging in size from 18 inches to four feet. Deputies and scientists located water diversion, mounds of trash and 24 pounds of rodenticides, of which nine pounds were peanut butter flavored and 15 pounds were second generation rodenticide. Malathion and fertilizers were also located at the scenes. No suspects were located in the area of the trespass marijuana grows, however deputies obtained evidence from the scenes that is being processed and the investigation is ongoing.

The spring fed water sources, which had been diverted and used to water marijuana plants, flow into the South Fork of the Trinity River. The springs were part of a network of subterranean water sources. The scientists reported that impacts from the water diversions and chemicals used on the grows could affect Coho salmon, Chinook salmon, steelhead, foothill yellow-legged frogs and the western pond turtles.

The scientists reported the rodenticides could potentially kill fishes, Northern spotted owls, American black bears, black tailed deer and Humboldt martens.

Below are some quotes from Dr. Mourad Gabriel of the UC Davis Wildlife Ecologist/Integral Ecology Research Center, who was present with the deputies and USFS agents.

“The removal of this massive amount of killing agents within prime spotted owl and fisher habitat is pertinent for the conservation of these species.”                                                        

“The illegal diversion of this amount of water prohibits the flow of cool water into tributaries that support our salmon populations.”

In light of the current drought and high water temperatures, this represents another blow to our already taxed watersheds.”

“The remediation efforts are crucial in protecting our forest ecosystems.”

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office crime tip line at 707-268-2539.

Redwood Times  Posted:   08/11/2014

http://www.redwoodtimes.com/news/ci_26315593/trespass-grows-found-usfs-land

 

 

 

By Jeanette McDougal, MM, CCDP, Chair
William R. Walluks, Member Hemp Committee, Drug Watch Intl.
August 2000

Fiber Cannabis hemp seed, though containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in hemp/marijuana) and other cannabinoid residue, is being heavily marketed and promoted by the hemp industry as a source of food, nutraceuticals, and cosmetics. The harmful effects of THC on humans and other animals is well documented. Hemp advocates, however, mimicking the tactics of tobacco industry apologist, challenge and “call into question” every statement substantiating harm caused by the use of Cannabis sativa L. hemp. (Where used in this paper, the term hemp refers to cannabis sativa, aka marijuana, and not to any of the numerous other plant fibers also commonly referred to as hemp.)

The campaign to use hemp fiber for paper, biomass, textiles, etc. has largely failed because hemp is neither economically viable nor technically feasible. However, because the handling, storage, and processing of hemp seed is more adaptable to present technologies than for hemp fiber, hemp seed production and products are now being aggressively promoted.

Low THC Cannabis sativa hemp that contains less than .3% (w/w) THC became legal to grow in Canada in March, 1998. THC and the other cannabinoids are found in food and other products made from fiber hemp seed. According to Canada’s national health department, Health Canada, “In theory the ripened seeds of Cannabis contain no detectable quantity of THC. However, because of the nature of the material it is almost impossible to obtain the seeds free from extraneous THC in the form of residues arising from other parts of the plant which are in close proximity to the seeds. Although it is required for the seeds to be cleaned before any subsequent use, the resinous nature of some of the material makes complete cleaning extremely difficult.” [1]

Since THC and the over 60 other cannabinoids are fat-soluble, i.e., store themselves in the fatty tissues of the brain and body, even a very small amount may be damaging, especially if ingested regularly. Fat-soluble substances accumulate in the body.

THC has a half-life of about seven days, meaning that one-half of the THC ingested or inhaled stays in the brain and body tissue for seven days. Traces can stay in body tissues for a month or more. The only important substance that exceeds THC in fat solubility is DDT. [2]

A risk assessment done for Health Canada states that, “New food products and cosmetics made from hemp – the marijuana plant – pose an unacceptable risk to the health of consumers. It also says that hemp products may not be safe because even small amounts of THC may cause developmental problems. “Those most at risk,” the study says, “are children exposed in the womb or through breast milk, or teen-agers whose reproductive systems are developing.” [3]

Hazards associated with exposure to THC include acute neurological effects and long-term effects on brain development, the reproductive system and the immune system,” the study says. “Overall, the data considered for this assessment support the conclusions that inadequate margins of safety exist between potential exposure and adverse effect levels for cannabinoids (the bio-active ingredients) in cosmetics, food and nutraceutical products made from hemp.” [3]

The study reviewed the results of existing tests on lab animals. Health Canada may require warning labels or new regulations that could stop some products from being sold. It is considering new animal studies to examine the effects of low-level exposure to THC over several generations. [3]

To cast further doubt about safety, the Journal of Immunology (July 2000) recently reported that THC, the major psychoactive component of marijuana (hemp), “can promote tumor growth by impairing the body’s anti-tumour immunity system.” [4]

Another unknown is hemp as forage for animals. According to Stan Blade, a director of crop diversification for Alberta Agriculture, a program that will test hemp over the next year as feed for livestock is being considered in Canada. Forage hemp will be tested on cattle against a more traditional mixture of oats and barley. [5]

Buffalo, the common dairy animal of Pakistan, are allowed to graze on Cannabis sativa (hemp), which, after absorption, is metabolized into a number of psychoactive agents. These agents are ultimately excreted through the urine and milk, making the milk, used by the people of the region, subject to contamination. Depending on the amount of milk ingested and the degree of contamination, the milk could result in a low to moderate level of chronic exposure to THC and other metabolites, especially among the children raised on this milk. Analysis from the urine obtained from children who were being raised on the milk from these animals, indicated that 29% of them had low levels of THC-COOH (THC-carboxylixc acid, which is a major metabolite for THC) in their urine. This study indicates that the passive consumption of marijuana through milk products is a serious problem in this region where wild marijuana grows unrestricted, and that children are likely to be exposed more than adults.” [6]

Hemp use could compromise drug testing. In his book, “Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill,” Udo Erasmus warns that people whose jobs require mandatory drug screening should avoid the use of hemp products, since THC residues in hemp products can show up in urine tests. 7. THC-positive urine tests from hemp product use were also reported in the August 1997 Journal of Analytical Toxicology. 8. For drug-testing reasons, the U.S. Air Force, the Air Force National Guard, the New York Police Dept., and the U.S. Coast Guard have banned the use of hemp foods and health supplements by their personnel. [8. & 9]

Dr. Hugh Davis, Acting Head of Microbiology and Cosmetics at Health Canada, is quoted as saying that he has been looking at studies on hemp and has found research showing hemp (i.e., fat soluble cannabinoids) is accumulative in the body because of its long half-life and has the same adverse physiological (but not hallucinatory) effects that smoking marijuana does. One study states that cannabinoids may postpone puberty. There are 60 known cannabinoids, only three of which have been widely studied. This means that the potential harmful aspects of the remaining 57 cannabinoids, when used in a cream or shampoo, are unknown.” [10]

John Bailey, Microbiology and Cosmetics Division, US-FDA, (US-Federal Drug Administration) is concerned as well, stating that there is no definitive information about THC in food and cosmetics. [10]

Dr. Mohmoud ElSohly, Ph.D., Marijuana Project Director, NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse), states that “Fiber hemp can have significant potential for narcotic application….The threshold THC concentration (below which Cannabis would have no significant psychoactive properties) has not been determined.” [11] [Emphasis added] Dr. Roy H. Hart, Clinical Psychiatrist and research chemist (ret.), asserts that it is possible to experience chronic intoxication without being high. [12]

In addition to THC, there are other bioactive, but non-psychoactive, cannabinoids [cannabinol (CBN), cannabidiol (CBD), and cannabigerol (CG)] in Cannabis sativa marijuana(hemp). [13] David West, Ph.D., pro-hemp activist (HI), claims that CBD blocks the effects of THC in the nervous system. [14] However, Dr. Carlton Turner, Director of the Federal NIDA Marijuana Project (1970-1981) and former US Drug Czar (1980s) counters that “CBD is abundant in hashish and if CBD blocked THC’s action, why would hashish be so popular? I know of no known definitive study that shows that CBD blocks THC’s affects. Fiber cannabis is rich in CBD with little THC. However, naive users can sometimes get high but regular users will not.” [15]

The non-psychoactive cannabinoids may be even more toxic than THC. According to Dr. Roy Hart, “Cannabidiol (CBD) exerts an important effect on the hippocampus which is part of the limbic system of the brain, a collection of inter-functioning units concerned with emotion. CBD produces a depression of hippocampal function…Thus far experimental evidence indicates that CBD is even more toxic to tissues than THC.” [16] [Emphasis added] Dr. Gabriel Nahas, Research Professor, New York University, states that cannabionids other than THC (CBN and CBD) also impair dividing cells, and “are even more potent than THC when it comes to inhibiting DNA production.” [17]

Dr. Hart further states that “Both the psychoactive and non-psychoactive cannabinoids occurring in nature interfere with protein synthesis, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) synthesis, and ribonucleic acid (RNA) synthesis. This is without doubt the most important statement to be made about marijuana(hemp) and is based upon the burgeoning literature of basic and applied research into cannabis. Cell-tissue-organ damage follows inevitably from these alternations occurring at the molecular level.” [18]

Longtime and internationally renowned Cannabis researcher, Dr. Gabriel Nahas says that research has shown that the most serious adverse consequences of consumption of THC and other cannabinoids have been observed at the earliest state of reproductive function, on the “gametes” or germ cells of man. These drugs cause damage to the genetic information contained in DNA, causing apoptosis (programmed cell death and deletion). This threatens future generations before they are conceived. [19]

A 1996 study conducted in the Ukraine (formerly Russia) showed that there are no varieties that completely lack(ed) cannabinoids. A rather high content of these substances (cannabinoids) was found in some varieties. The results obtained have shown that hemp cultivated in more northerly areas is naturally rich in cannabinoids. [20]

European Union (EU) hemp regulations for the year 2000 state that hemp subsidies will be paid on condition the farmer uses certified seed of hemp varieties with a THC content of less than 0.3%. From the years 2001/02, that upper limit will be lowered to 0.2%. [21]

The European Union (EU) too is concerned about any inclusion of hemp products’ in food, stating in their regulations, “…Hemp seed has one traditional but limited application as food for fish and birds. The oil from hemp seed can be used for specialist cosmetics applications. The use of hemp seed or the leafed parts of the plant for human consumption would, however, even in the absence of THC, contribute towards making the narcotic use of cannabis acceptable and, in any event, there is no nutritional justification for this. [Emphasis added] None of these products should be encouraged in their own right by Community aid….Moreover, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB, a United Nations body) states that: ‘while illicit cannabis cultivation (sic) have soared, a considerable market for food products and beverages produced with cannabis has developed in the European Union (…). The health effects of these products have not been adequately researched.’(…) [Emphasis added] The wide and unrestricted availability of such products in shops, where cannabis candy bars can be sold to minors without restriction, contribute to the overall benign image of cannabis, a drug under international control.” [OICS note of 12.3.1999.] [21]

It is therefore important to remain vigilant and step up controls to ensure that illegal crops do not tarnish the reputation of the sector producing hemp for fibre. To avert such dangers, the cultivation of hemp for fibre must be strictly controlled, which means the area cultivated will have to be restricted, and the uses to which it is put must NOT include human nutrition.” [Emphasis added] These EU regulations apply from July 1, 2000. [21]

The findings of the previously mentioned Health Canada THC Assessment are quite alarming from a consumer health and safety standpoint. Two key areas of health hazards to humans were reviewed, and the potential for risks from consumption of hemp products was characterized. [22]

One health area was neuroendocrine disruption during developmental states (perinatal, pre-pubertal and pubertal) that leads to permanent adverse effects on the brain and reproductive systems. The second area was neurological impairment manifested as deficits in cognitive and motor skills’ performance. [22]

The study could not, due to data gaps, develop definitive conclusions regarding the degree of potential risk from ingesting THC through hemp products. However, even without considering the bio-accumulative hazard potential of THC through repeated or multiple-product use, or the risk from chemicals other than THC in Cannabis sativa hemp, it nevertheless came to the following conclusions:

CHARACTERIZATIONS OF RISKS FROM THC
IN HEMP PRODUCTS FOR HUMAN USE & CONSUMPTION
HEALTH CANADA STUDY (DRAFT of November 23, 1999)

HEALTH RISK/ PRODUCT FOOD COSMETICS NUTRACEUTICALS
RISK OF
NEUROENDOCRINE
DISRUPTION *
LIKELY POSSIBLE LIKELY
RISK OF NEUROLOGICALIMPAIRMENT ANDPSYCHOACTIVITY LIKELY, PARTICULARLYFOR CHILDREN
(also risk ofpsychoactivity for children)
UNLIKELY, THOUGH CANNOT BE EXCLUDED ENTIRELY DUE TO LIMITATIONS OF STUDY POSSIBLE,PARTICULARLY IN CHILDREN.

*Developing fetus, nursing infant, and prepubertal/pubertal child are at greatest risk of long-term effects. THC is rapidly transferred from mother to fetus within minutes of exposure. THC accumulates and is transferred via breast-milk. [22]

The in-depth Health Canada Risk Assessment on THC and Other Cannabinoids (in products) Made with Industrial Hemp (11/23/99) warns “On the basis of currently available data it is concluded that the present Canadian limit of 10ug/g (i.e.,10 ppm) THC in raw materials and products made from industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa cultivars with less than 0.3% THC) would likely not protect the Canadian consumer using industrial hemp-based food, cosmetic and personal care, and nutraceutical products from potential health risks of neurological impairment and neuroendocrine disruption associated with low level exposure to THC and other cannabinoids.” [22]

In the United States even salad oils must be examined and certified by the US-FDA as “generally recognized as safe.” This has not been done for hemp.

Allowing or introducing toxic chemicals in our food and cosmetic systems through use of THC-containing industrial hemp products is unthinkable. To do so would jeopardize public health and safety. U.S. citizens and government agencies and officials should do everything possible to prevent this from happening, thus protecting future generations from both known and unknown health and genetic hazards.

REFERENCES: THC in Food and Cosmetics

1. Industrial Hemp Technical Manual, Health Canada, Standard Operating Procedures for Sampling and Testing Methodology Basic Method for determination of THC in hempseed oil, 1998.

2. Hart, R.H.: Bitter Grass, The Bitter Truth About Marijuana, April 1980,13-14.

3. Mcilroy, A.: “Health Canada study says THC poses health risk,” Globe and Mail, Ottawa Canada, July 27, 1999.

4. Zhu,LX., Sharma,S., Stolina,M., Gardner,B., Roth,MD., Tashkin,DP., Dubinett,SM., -9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Inhibits Antitumor Immunity by a CB2 Receptor-Mediated, Cytokine-Dependent Pathway, The Journal of Immunology, 2000, 165: 373-380.

5. “Alberta Farmers Slow To Try Growing Hemp,” Calgary Herald, Calgary Canada, August 14, 1999.

6. Ahmad, GR; Ahmad, N., “Passive consumption of marijuana through milk: a low level chronic exposure to Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)., Journal of Toxicology, Clinical Toxicology, 1990,28:2,255-260;ref.

7. Erasmus, U., Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, Alive Books, 1993, p. 287.

8. Pulley, J., Air Force Snuffs Out Hemp-Seed Extract, Air Force Times, 2/8/99.

9. Cooper, M., New Police Policy Takes On Hemp Oil!, New York Times, 7/22/99.

10. Begoun, P., “Hemp Claims Can’t be Confirmed,” Tampa Tribune (FL), February 4, 2000.

11. Report to the (KY) Governor’s Hemp and Related Fiber Crops Task Force, June 13, 1995, Letter from Mahmoud A. Elsohly, Project Director, NIDA, Marijuana Project, University of Mississippi, to Prof. M. Scott Smith, Ph.D., University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, 1995.

12. Hart, R.H.: Bitter Grass, The Bitter Truth About Marijuana, April 1980, p 17

13. Ibid, p 17.

14. West, DP., Hemp and Marijuana: Myths & Realities, North American Industrial Hemp Council, Inc., 1998, p5.

15. Personal Correspondence from: Carlton Turner, Ph.D., Carrington Laboratories, Inc., Irving, TX., March 22, 1999, to: Jeanette McDougal.

16. Hart, R.H.: Bitter Grass, The Bitter Truth About Marijuana, April 1980, p 18.

17. Nahas, GG, M.D., PhD., D.Sc., Keep Off The Grass; Paul S. Ericksson, Publisher, 1990, p148

18. Hart, R.H.: Bitter Grass, The Bitter Truth About Marijuana, April 1980, p 17.

19. Nahas, GG, M.D., PhD.,D.Sc., Keep Off The Grass; Paul S. Ericksson, Publisher, 1990, p282. and Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore 2000.

20. Virovets, V.G.: Selection for Non-Psychoactive Hemp Varieties (Cannabis sativa L.) In the CIS (former USSR), 1996, Journal of the International Hemp Association 3(1): 13-15.

21. Community preparatory acts, Document 599PC0576(02): Http://europe.eu.int/eur- lex/en/com/dat/1999/en_599PC0576_02.html

22. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Other Cannabinoids in Foods, Cosmetics and Nutraceuticals Made with Industrial Hemp – A risk Assessment – (Draft) Prepared for Health Canada, November 23, 1999 (available through Access of Information, Canada). Final Report due fall of 2000, available through Health Canada.

Source: www.drugwatch.org/resources Aug.2000

The methadone programme in Scotland is “out of control”, an expert has warned.

Prof Neil McKeganey, from the Centre for Drug Misuse Research, said “it is literally a black hole into which people are disappearing”. Data obtained by BBC Scotland showed pharmacists were paid £17.8m for dispensing nearly half a million doses of methadone in 2014.

In response, the Scottish government said both doses and costs linked to opioid treatment had been dropping. Community Safety Minister Paul Wheelhouse told the BBC: “Fewer Scots are taking drugs – numbers are continuing to fall amongst the general adult population, and drug taking among young people is the lowest in a decade.”

However, a lack of data to measure the programme’s impact was the focus of criticism from Prof McKeganey. He said: “We still don’t know how many addicts are on the methadone programme, what progress they’re making, and with what frequency they are managing to come off methadone.

“Successive inquiries have shown that the programme is in a sense out of control; it just sits there, delivering more methadone to more addicts, year in year out, with very little sense of the progress those individuals are making towards their recovery.”

But David Liddell, director of the Scottish Drug Forum, disputed claims that addicts were parked on the methadone programme. He said: “What we know is the level of methadone being dispensed continues at the same level, but it’s not the same individuals. “Our sense is that of the 20,000-plus people on methadone, it will be less than half who are on it for a very long period of time.” However Mr Liddell admitted that, unlike England, there is currently no data in Scotland on whether users are relying on the programme indefinitely.

Regional increases

In 2013, pharmacies claimed back more than £17.9m from the Scottish government for dispensing 470,256 doses of methadone – 22,980 doses more than in 2014.

But despite this overall decrease, new data – obtained from National Services Scotland through a freedom of information request – revealed the amount of methadone dispensed has increased in more than a third of Scottish local authorities over the last two years.

The Edinburgh council area saw the largest increase in doses (2,949), followed by Falkirk (421) and Argyll and Bute (405). The largest decreases were found in Renfrewshire (5,842), Inverclyde (5,611) and East Ayrshire (5,598).

And while fees paid to pharmacies for dispensing methadone have declined over a four-year period, Prof McKeganey said the average annual outlay does suggest users are parked on the drug.

Prof McKeganey said: “The aspiration contained within the government’s ‘Road to Recovery’drug strategy explicitly said that the goal of treatment must be to enable people to become drug-free rather than remain on long-term methadone. These figures show you that we are not achieving that goal – we are not witnessing large numbers of people coming off the methadone programme.”

New strategy

Methadone has been at the heart of drug treatment strategies since the 1980s, but its use has been widely criticised by recovering addicts and drugs workers.

Methadone is by far the most widely used of the opioid replacement therapies (ORT), with an estimated 22,000 patients currently receiving it, but some users take it for years without being weaned off it altogether. Howevera review commissioned by the Scottish governmentin 2013 concluded methadone should continue to be used to treat heroin addicts.

There are alternatives, including prescribing medical heroin, but many in the drugs field say the debate should move away from these to an examination of how the wider needs of drug users can be met. Prof McKeganey said methadone does have a role to play in helping addicts wean themselves off heroin, but it should not be prescribed as widely as it is now.

An estimated 22,000 people are currently on Scotland’s methadone programme

He said he would like to see a two-year reassessment implemented so that if the “highly addictive” methadone does not seem to be working for an individual, they can then either try the more expensive suboxone, or enter a drug-free residential home. “That seemed preferable to me than leaving people on a methadone prescription for years – and then the worry is that you’ve turned your heroin addicts into methadone addicts.”

Figures released by the NHS in 2012revealed that methadone-implicated deaths increased dramatically in cases where the individual had been prescribed the drug for more than a year.

Recent figures from the National Records of Scotland also revealmethadone was implicated in nearly the same number of deaths as heroin in 2013.

‘Methadone millionaires’

The methadone data obtained by BBC Scotland reveals how much each individual pharmacy claimed back in fees from the Scottish government.

Last year more than £102,000 was claimed by just one pharmacy on Glasgow’s Saracen Street in Possilpark – an area ranked the third most-deprived in Scotland. The largest claims were made by pharmacy giants Boots and Lloyds, who reclaimed £3.8m and £3.3m respectively from their hundreds of branches across the country.

The fees paid back to pharmacies are not only for the dispensing of methadone, but for oral hygiene services, and the services of a supervisor to ensure the dose is taken onsite and not sold on the street. Pharmacies apply to enter into a contract with their health board to provide methadone services and must justify the need for such a service within that locality. Pharmacists in Greater Glasgow are currently paid £2.16 for dispensing every dose of methadone and £1.34 for supervising addicts while they take it.

The fees are negotiated with individual health boards to suit local needs, and are lower than in England.

But a spokesman from Community Pharmacy Scotland dismissed the“methadone millionaire” tagplaced on such pharmacies in the past by certain media outlets.

He said: “Methadone is an NHS prescription medicine and as such a community pharmacy is obliged to provide it when it has been prescribed for a patient by a GP.

“While community pharmacists are paid to administer the program, the income is far outweighed by the time, administration and difficulties that can often be encountered by taking on a role in this difficult area. The argument is not a financial one – but a health and social issue.”

A statement by the Scottish government did not address the lack of data to prove the programme was enabling addicts to become drug-free. However, Mr Wheelhouse said: “Both the number of items and the number of defined daily doses of opioid treatment have dropped steadily over the past five years and the cost of methadone is down 19% since 2010-11. He added: “Independent experts advise that opioid replacement therapy is a crucial tool in treating opiate dependency. However, we believe it is important that there are a range of treatments available that suit the unique needs of individuals.

“Prescribing opioid replacement therapy is an independent decision for individual clinicians, in line with the current UK guidelines on the Clinical Management of Drug Misuse and Dependence.”

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-31943109 24th March 2015

DENVER, CO – MARCH, 4: Lights hang above cannabis plants in a “flower room” inside a medical cannabis cultivation facility in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Monday, March 4, 2013. (Photo by Matthew Staver/For The Washington Post)

Across the country, there’s a growing trend toward the legalization of marijuana. Four states— Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Alaska —have voted to allow people to possess limited amounts of marijuana for personal use and also to let producers apply for licenses to produce and sell it. D.C. also just voted to allow personal possession. All of this is on top of the 23 states that allow it for medical reasons.

In some states, where businesses are also now legally cultivating and producing marijuana, a mainstream industry is emerging. Marijuana sales totalled $700 million in Colorado last year, for instance. But there’s a surprising catch. It turns out that indoor marijuana growth in particular — a cultivation method often favoured in the industry for many reasons — uses a surprising amount of energy.

Indeed, the level of power use appears to be so significant that one scholar is now suggesting that as the industry grows, states and localities should take advantage of marijuana licensing procedures to also regulate the industry’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Given that this is a new ‘industry’ that is going to be pretty highly regulated, I felt like the state and local policymakers have a unique opportunity to incorporate energy usage and climate assessments into their state marijuana licensing fees,” says Gina Warren, a professor at the Texas A&M University School of Law whose paper, titled “Regulating Pot to Save the Polar Bear: Energy and Climate Impacts of the Marijuana Industry,”will soon appear in the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law.

The published statistics on energy use from indoor marijuana production will blow your mind (whether or not you use the stuff). In a 2012 study of the “carbon footprint of indoor cannabis production” published in the journal Energy Policy, researcher Evan Mills noted that “on occasion, previously unrecognized spheres of energy use come to light,” and marijuana is a textbook example.

The study estimated that indoor cannabis (both illegal and legal) uses $6 billion worth of electricity every year, amounting to 1 percent ofoverall U.S. electricity. And in some production-intensive states like California, it was much higher — 3 percent, Mills found.

“One average kilogram of final product is associated with 4,600 kg of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, or that of 3 million average U.S. cars when aggregated across all national production,” wrote Mills.

The reason is simply the technology required. “Specific energy uses include high-intensity lighting, dehumidification to remove water vapour and avoid mould formation, space heating or cooling during non-illuminated periods and drying, pre-heating of irrigation water, generation of carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuel, and ventilation and air-conditioning to remove waste heat,” writes Mills.

Outdoor production also has environmental consequences —it has been charged with deforestation and high levels of water and pesticide use.But as pot becomes more legal and mainstream, notes Warren, outdoor producers will have to abide by pre-existing environmental laws, just like everyone else.

In effect, that makes indoor production the chief climate change and energy concern. According to Warren’s article, while underground indoor marijuana production already consumed plenty of energy, legalization will increase energy use even farther. “As theindustry grows, so will its negative externalities,” she writes.

Which is why she’s proposing that states that legalize marijuana use should also require the growing industry to power itself cleanly. And it’s not without precedent: Starting in October of this year, Boulder County in Colorado will require many marijuana facilities to “directly offset 100% of electricity, propane, and natural [gas] consumption” through renewables or other means.

Warren says she’s not “picking on the marijuana industry” with her proposals — it’s just that, well, we don’t often have new industries appear that use a lot of energy and are likely to be highly regulated as they become legal.

“I think it could actually be a marketing tool for the industry,” says Warren, “because if you have people who are purchasing the product who are the type of individual who cares about the environment, then they would gravitate towards the green marijuana production.”

Source:http://www.washingtonpost.com/

CLEARING THE HAZE

….The ugly truth is that Colorado was suckered. It was promised regulation and has been met by an industry that fights tooth and nail any restrictions that limit its profitability.”  Ben Cort, Director of Professional Relations for the Center for Additction Recovery and rehabilitation at the University Of Colorado Hospital

Source:   http://gazette.com/clearingthehaze

 

REGULATION STILL INEFFECTIVE

But how it would work was described only in general terms and sound bites before voters headed to the polls to make a decision Gov. John Hickenlooper later would call “reckless” and “a bad idea” and new Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman declared “not worth it” to dozens of state attorneys general last month.

Source:http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/regulation-still-ineffective/article/2562323?custom_click=rss

 

NO APPROVED MEDICINE IN MARIJUANA

Dr. Stuart Gitlow, a physician serving as president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, does not mince words: “There is no such thing at this point as medical marijuana,” he said. It’s a point he has made routinely for the past decade, as advocates for marijuana legalization have claimed the drug treats an array of serious illnesses, or the symptoms of illnesses, including cancer, depression, epilepsy, glaucoma and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Source:http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/no-approved-medicine-in-marijuana/article/2562336

 

LEGALIZATION DIDN’T UNCLOG PRISONS

Of all the misunderstandings about marijuana’s impact on the country, perhaps none is greater than the belief that America’s courts, prisons and jails are clogged with people whose only offense was marijuana use. This is the perception, but statistics show few inmates are behind bars strictly for marijuana-related offenses, and legalization of the drug will do little to affect America’s growing incarceration numbers.

Source:http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/legalization-didnt-unclog-prisons/article/2562326

 

DRUG USE A PROBLEM FOR EMPLOYERS

“This is a very troublesome issue for our industry, but I do not see us bending or lowering our hiring standards,” Johnson said. “Our workplaces are too dangerous and too dynamic to tolerate drug use. And marijuana? In many ways, this is worse than alcohol. I’m still in shock at how we (Colorado) voted. Everyone was asleep at the wheel.”

Source:http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/drug-use-a-problem-for-employers/article/2562334

 

MEDICAL MARIJUANA INDUSTRY STILL GROWING

And amid all the hoopla around legalized recreational pot, its older cousin, the medical marijuana (MMJ) industry — with 505 stores throughout Colorado — quietly continued to grow, adding patients by the thousands who seemingly had no problem finding physicians willing to diagnose what critics say are often phantom medical conditions. Statewide, the number of people on the Medical Marijuana Registry grew 4 percent in 2014 — the first year of legal recreational sales — from 111,030 to 115,467 by year’s end.

Source:http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/medical-marijuana-industry-still-growing-in-colorado/article/2562335

The most obvious characteristic of marijuana-legalisation campaigners – apart from billionaire interests on the scale of Big Tobacco – is that their lobbying and promises are based on theories not facts.

Legalisers regularly use the words “science” and “evidence base” but rarely cite research references. Never has this chasm between theory and fact been so powerfully and conspicuously exposed as in the March analysis by local media in Clearing the Haze of events a year after marijuana was legalised for recreational use in Colorado.

Here in the UK, a decade-long follow up by researchers into Britain’s disastrous 2004 ‘Lambeth experiment’ of depenalisation proved that it led to more crime and hospitalisations not less. The Colorado aftermath of legalisation is on a vaster scale.

CLAIM:“We view our top priority as creating an environment where negative impacts on children from marijuana legalisation are avoided completely,” Colorado’s governor promised.

FACT:There are growing concerns over exposure, potency and availability of marijuana to children. Even before legalisation, Governor John Hickenlooper predicted the need for “a project to analyse the correlation between marijuana use during pregnancy and birth defects” (FYI, here’sa listand one on perils tochildren). Colorado hospitals have admitted more children for marijuana harms. A June 2014 survey of 100 Colorado school officers found that 89 per cent witnessed a rise in marijuana-related incidents since legalisation.

CLAIM:Legalisation will fund prevention, education.

FACT:Colorado budgeted only about $34,000 for its Office of Behavioral Health’s prevention work in the 2014-2105 fiscal year; nothingwas received. Its Department of Public Health and EnvironmentGood to Knowcampaign, crafted with marijuana business owners, tells children how to use pot. “It’s like inviting a tobacco company to help us learn how to use tobacco and develop our next anti-smoking campaign.”

CLAIM:Regulation works.

FACT:How regulation would work was described only in soundbites before voting. Hickenlooper later admitted it was “reckless” and “a bad idea”. This February, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman declared it “not worth it”. Ben Cort at the University of Colorado Hospital disclosed that “Colorado has been met by an industry that fights tooth and nail any restrictions that limit profitability. Like Big Tobacco, the marijuana industry derives profits from addiction and its survival depends on turning a percentage of kids into lifelong customers.”

CLAIM:Legalisation of marijuana will unclog prisons.

FACT:There aren’t enough offenders in prison for simple possession of pot to unclog the system if they were freed: only 103. In 2011, the federal government convicted only 48 marijuana offenders with under 5,000 grams of marijuana: almost 12,000 joints.

CLAIM:Legalisation will produce new revenue for the general fund.

FACT:Tax revenues failed to meet projections – taxpayers could even get two refunds. The Governor’s Office of Marijuana Coordination director said the first priority for tax revenue is to cover regulatory costs. Moreover, Colorado isn’t equipped to gather cost-benefit analysis to quantify costs linked with cannabis abuse. This is alongside lawsuits against the state, manufacturing hazards, pressured resources for the homeless, concerns over children’s welfare and more: “Voters didn’t understand how difficult, resource-intensive and costly the enforcement of even just marijuana driving laws would be”.

CLAIM:Legalisation of marijuana will hobble drug cartels.

FACT:Cheaper marijuana prices mean cartels turn to ‘harder’ drugs including ‘black tar’ heroin and methamphetamine, as well as cybercrime and continued people-trafficking.

CLAIM:By regulating sales of marijuana, Colorado will make money otherwise locked into the black market.

FACT:Black-market sales are booming so much that they are blamed for cannabis tax revenues falling short of claims. “Don’t buy the argument that regulating sales will eliminate the black market, reduce associated criminal activity and free up law enforcement agencies’ resources,” Coffman urged in February. Worse is that “Colorado is the black market for the rest of the US”: neighbouring Denver suffered an almost 1,000 per cent spike in marijuana seizures.

CLAIM:Legalisation and regulation will see people using lower strengths of drugs.

FACT:Colorado permits one ounce of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient giving a euphoric high. Many people envision an ounce of dried marijuana plant, about 40 standard cigarettes. But one ounce of concentrated THC equals over 2,800 average-size brownies or candy; an ounce of hash oil is roughly 560 standard ‘vaping’ hits.

CLAIM:Medical marijuana works, only legalisation allows research.

FACT:Treating marijuana – sold in dispensaries without FDA approval and shown to be more carcinogenic than tobacco when combusted – as if exempt from the approval process others drugs must undergo for public safety, is seen as derailing legitimate research on specific parts of the marijuana plant for new clinically-proven medicines without addiction risks. As the prevention charity, Cannabis Skunk Sense, puts it: “it’s like getting penicillin by eating mouldy bread”. Non-legalisation has not stopped 70+ scientific studies on cannabinoids elsewhere, and the National Institutes of Health awarded over $14million for such research.

CLAIM:Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

FACT:“Not when it comes to driving – and officers are seeing people using both substances, which is worse,” revealed one police chief.In the first six months of 2014, 77 per centDUIDs (driving under influence of drugs) involved marijuana. Accident risk doubles with any measurable amount of THC in the bloodstream, rising when alcohol is added.

The tragic fact above all else is that these downsides were predicted by authoritative individuals and organisations – and ignored. The good of many people was sacrificed for the greed of a few: be it for money, power or a drugged delusion. Deirdre Boyd

Source: www.conservativewoman.co.uk 1st April 2015


Source: https://learnaboutsam.org/

This article shows how drug use in an area can impact more than the individual and their families and friends.  The local economy and small businesses are having to cope with lower productivity due to ‘functioning’ drug dependents in the workforce.    NDPA

New Hampshire drug czar: Addiction dragging state’s economy down

Providing more treatment and recovery options for drug addicts is as much about the addicts as it is about helping spur the state’s economy, said the state’s new drug czar.

“For me, it’s all about the money,” said John G. “Jack” Wozmak, senior director for substance misuse and behavioral health.  Wozmak was appointed in January by Gov. Maggie Hassan. The position is funded by a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. Wozmak spent nearly a decade as the administrator of the Beech Hill substance abuse treatment facility in Dublin, and since 1998 had been the Cheshire County administrator.

“With a broad range of experience dealing with substance misuse through his roles in the public sector and in private substance abuse treatment, Jack will help strengthen our efforts to improve the health and safety of Granite Staters, and I thank him for his commitment to serving the people of New Hampshire, as well the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation for making his position possible,” Hassan said in a statement.

Wozmak’s task: Get a host of agencies and organizations to work together to reduce the state’s drug abuse, particularly heroin addiction.  Wozmak takes the post at a time when heroin overdoses and deaths are at an all-time high in New Hampshire. The Centers for Disease Control reports that New Hampshire is among 28 states that saw big increases in heroin deaths.

But Wozmak said drug addiction is more than the headline-generating heroin overdoses and drug-related burglaries and robberies that dominate the news.
“Yes, the number of heroin deaths is doubling (from the previous year). But that’s just the tip of the iceberg” of the state’s drug epidemic, he said.

Functioning addicts

The underlying problem – and what the drug czar said will help him get more money for treatment and prevention efforts from state legislators – is the thousands of drug abusers who do not necessarily overdose but drive up costs for employers, he said.
“You don’t hear about the day-to-day drug exposure that companies have because it’s all below the surface, like an iceberg,” he said.

Employers see everything from diminished production to having to overstaff or pay overtime to cover for employees addicted to drugs who miss work, he said. This hurts profit and, in turn, decreases the state’s revenue from business profits taxes. He said estimates from the state’s hospitality sector indicate that as many as 20 percent of that field’s employees may have drug addiction issues.

“I want to increase jobs and this is getting in the way,” he said. “It’s just interfering with productivity. It’s interfering with the economy.”  Wozmak said the drug problem as been exacerbated by a myriad of issues, including budget cuts for treatment programs, along with insurance companies cutting or capping policy coverage for substance abuse treatment.

In the 1980s, he said, the state had more than 600 beds at six private centers providing treatment for substance abuse. After all the cuts by insurance companies, the state now has 62 beds available, he said.

Further, the state ranks second-to-last – after Texas – in providing treatment for drug addiction and has the lowest rate in the country – 6 percent – of people who get treatment for their addictions.  “We have decimated the system of treatment and recovery, and we have to rebuild it,” he said. “Imagine the outrage if diabetes were treated this way.”

More money

Hassan has proposed more than tripling the state’s spending for the Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery in her proposed two-year budget, from a total of nearly $2.9 million in the 2014-15 budget, to nearly $9.6 million in 2016-17.

The way to convince legislators that the funding is necessary is by appealing to their desire for job growth in a state that has had anemic population growth, Wozmak said.  To get population and job growth, he said, the state has to make its work force healthier and the best way to do that is to reduce drug addiction.

“If you ran on a platform of job growth, you have to deal with this issue,” he said. “If (job growth is) not going to be from people moving here, then you have to improve the work force that’s here.  “If you’re not looking to take care of this problem, then you’re falling down on your promise,” he said. “If you want to create jobs, you have to make the work force more viable.”

Wozmak said the problem can be solved. He said his role includes getting the affected parties – including law enforcement, public resources, private or nonprofit organizations, charities and treatment facilities – working together. He said a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires insurers to cover substance abuse again should help spur private investment in treatment and recovery facilities.

“There is no easy answer, but I believe there are many opportunities to make the change now on a variety of levels and a myriad of fronts,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a lot of success.”  He said getting help from the state’s medical professionals will also be key, as most heroin addicts, he said, start with addictions to prescription painkillers. He said medical professionals are “not the sole source” of the issue, but could be involved in changing the way pain is managed to help prevent addictions.

“None of them wanted to become addicts,” he said.

– See more at: http://www.unionleader.com/article/    8th March 2015

Nick Clegg’s most recent contribution to the drugs debate has been to call for an end to imprisonment for the possession of drugs for personal use, and to move leadership of the UK drug strategy from what he sees as an enforcement obsessed Home Office to a treatment focused Department of Health. His rationale for this is that we are currently wasting resources locking up the ” victims “of the drug trade while allowing “health harm to go untreated”. 

Ending the use of imprisonment to protect people from themselves has much to commend it. The detailed legal drafting will be trickier than the deputy PM seems to realise, and it is unlikely to free up much resource, given the small numbers involved and the short periods actually served in custody. Nevertheless this reform, particularly if it were allied to amendments to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act to prevent minor convictions having a disproportionate impact on people’s future life chances, offers a sensible measured step to correct the negative consequences of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Furthermore this could be achieved without opening the Pandora’s box of legalisation, from which may flow increased drug use, and increasing harm, reversing the trend of young people turning away from drugs we have seen over the last decade.

So three cheers for proposal number one. Proposal number two, at first glance seems like common sense. If you want to focus on treatment the Department of Health is the obvious home for policy. My view based on 12 years in Whitehall responsible for the English treatment system is that it could be a disaster. Here is why.

Drug policy and drug treatment has never been a priority for the Department of Health or the NHS. The financial crisis, the interface between health and social care, waiting times, cancer, dementia, and a host of other issues dominate the DH/NHS agenda. Even when policies focus on the wider social determinants of health in an effort to reduce the burden on scarce NHS resources the priorities are :smoking: 80,000 deaths a year, obesity 30,000 deaths a year, alcohol 6500 deaths a year, not illegal drugs: 2000 deaths a year. Drug use simply doesn’t kill enough people or cause as much ill-health as over risky behaviours, and the priority accorded to it by successive Health leaderships reflects that.

Although illegal drug use causes less health harm than either alcohol or tobacco it is neither safe nor harmless. Overall, government estimate drug misuse causes £15 billion worth of harm to society, dwarfing the 5 billion of health harm from smoking. 13 billion of this is the cost of drug-related crime. Home Office research estimates that 50% of the marked rise in crime that occurred in the 1980s and 90s is attributable to the successive waves of heroin epidemics that swept over the country during those decades. Addressing this escalation in criminality by making treatment readily available across the country was the rationale behind the government’s hugely increased investment in treatment following 2001, up from 50 million a year to 600 million. Public Health England estimate that providing rapid access to treatment for around 200,000 individuals, more than twice as many as in 2001, currently prevents almost 5 million crimes each year.

Given the Home Secretary’s responsibility for crime it is not surprising that the Home Office have a very different view of the priority of drug treatment to the Department of Health. The private view in the Department of Health is that the current level of drug spend is a misdirection of scarce health resources which are needed to respond to more pressing health priorities. The Home Office view is that the current spend on treatment is cost-effective yielding, according to the National Audit Office, £2.50 worth of value for the taxpayer from every £1 invested, largely from reduced crime.

Put simply the Home Office see drug treatment as value for money the Department of Health see it as a misallocation of resources. On a number of occasions over the last decade the Department of Health has sought to disinvest from drug treatment, only stepping back when this has been resisted by successive Home Secretaries. These different orientations are particularly important at the moment as the resources currently spent on drug treatment across England come under threat of disinvestment by hard-pressed Local Authorities(who were given responsibility for drug treatment under the Lansley NHS reforms) looking to raid their public health grants to prop up core services.

So what may appear at first sight as commonsense will be very likely to result in drug policy becoming the responsibility of a department that isn’t very interested, has a wealth of competing priorities, and a track record of seeking to disinvest from the very intervention that the proposal is designed to promote. Meanwhile a department that has a powerful rationale for championing treatment, and a track record of doing so, is sidelined. If Mr Clegg is as committed to drug policy based on evidence as he maintains, perhaps he needs to reconsider.

Source:  www.huffingtonpost.co.uk  9th March 2015

Not magic at all of course, but a consequence of the fact that substance use problems are closely related to other problems which often develop at early ages when substance use is just not on the agenda. The 2010 English national drug strategy and corresponding public health plans seemed to recognise this, breaking with previous versions to focus attention on early years parenting in general, and particularly among vulnerable families. 

Though studies are few compared to approaches such as drug education in schools, this renewed emphasis on the early years has a strong theoretical rationale and some research backing. Child development and parenting programmes which do not mention substances at all (or only peripherally) have recorded some of the most substantial prevention impacts. Though mainly targeted at the early years, some extend to early teenage pupils and their families. The rationale for intervention rests partly on strong evidence that schools which develop supportive, engaging and inclusive cultures, and which offer opportunities to participate in school decision-making and extracurricular activities, create better outcomes across many domains, including non-normative substance use. As well as facilitating bonding with the school, such schools are likely to make it easier for pupils to seek and receive the support they need.

Understandably, such findings do not derive from random allocation of pupils to ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ schools, so are vulnerable to other influences the study was unable to account for. More convincing if more limited in intervention scope are studies which deliberately intervene and test what happens among young people randomly allocated to the focal intervention versus a comparator. An early example was a seminal Dutch drug education study of the early ’70s which had a profound impact in Britain. For the practitioners of the time, it was a warning about the dangers of the dominant ‘scare them’ approach, but it might as well have been a lesson about the approach which outperformed the warnings – classroom discussions which simply gave teenage pupils a structured chance to discuss the problems of adolescence, leaving it up to them whether drugs cropped up.

Image

 

Among the most prominent and promising of current approaches is the Good Behavior Game classroom management technique for the first years of primary schooling  illustration. Well and consistently implemented, by age 19–21 it was estimated that this would cut rates of alcohol use disorders from 20% to 13% and halve drug use disorders among the boys. In the Effectiveness Bank you can read about the study and read a practitioner-friendly account of the research from the researchers themselves. The same programme has been combined with parenting classes, leading to reductions in the uptake and frequency of substance use over the next three years.

Another primary school example is the Positive Action programme which focuses on improving school climate and pupil character development. In Hawaii and then the more difficult schools of Chicago, it had substantial and, in Chicago, lasting preventive impacts.

In Britain perhaps best known is the Strengthening Families Programme, a family and parenting programme which in the early 2000s impressed British alcohol prevention reviewers. It features parent-child play sessions, during which parents are coached in how to enjoy being with their children and to reinforce good behaviour. At first the accent is on building up the positives before tackling the more thorny issues of limit-setting and discipline. Though the potential seems great, later research has not been wholly positive, and the earlier results derived from the minority of families prepared or able to participate in the interventions and complete the studies.

A final example comes from Norway, where a study raised the intriguing possibility that taking measures to effectively reduce bullying in schools helps prevent some of the most worrying forms of substance use.

Isolating these and other similar studies is not possible via our normal search facilities, so we have specially identified and coded them. They may prove to be the future for drug prevention, as traditional drug education struggles for credibility as a prevention tool. See how this future is shaping up today by running this hot topic search.

Source:  www.findings.org     3rd March 2015

 

A study published Wednesday found that consuming large flavored alcoholic beverages can increase risk for binge drinking and related alcohol injuries for underage drinkers. PHOTO BY EMILY ZABOSKI/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Super-sized flavored alcoholic beverages can increase the risk of binge drinking and alcohol-related injuries for underage drinkers, researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Boston University found in a study, a Wednesday press release stated.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health on Feb. 25, found that underage drinkers who reported consuming malts, premixed cocktails and alcopops drank more on average and were more likely to experience “episodic heavy drinking,” the report stated. About 1,000 people ages 13 to 20 were surveyed online.

David Jernigan, an author of the study and director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing at Johns Hopkins, said heavier drinking occurs with these flavored beverages because of the serving sizes. Most of these beverages hold the equivalent of 4 to 5 beers in one container, he said.

“We particularly found the correlations between the largest size of these drinks and negative behaviors because one of these super-sized drinks is the equivalent of four to five beers,” he said. “Even though the can may have serving size though most don’t, teens are treating them as a single serving. Some people in the field call it a binge in a can.”

Study co-author Alison Albers, a professor in BU’s School of Public Health, said the study brings up important issues and will help determine future policies.

“These findings raise important concerns about the popularity and use of flavored alcoholic beverages among young people, particularly for the supersized varieties,” she said in the release. “Public health practitioners and policymakers would be wise to consider what further steps could be taken to keep these beverages out of the hands of youth.”

Jernigan said careful packaging should be implemented in the production of super-sized beverages.

“The re-sealable top is more of a joke,” he said. “These are being treated as a single serving, and the results suggest this may be a dangerous form of packaging.”

Katharine Mooney, director of Wellness and Prevention Services at BU, said the university takes steps to prevent the overconsumption of alcohol.

“We discourage against any kind of risky behavior, and these oversized sugar sweetened beverages definitely all into the category of risky,” she said. “[It’s] just like a punch bowl at a party.”

Mooney said because the drinks do not taste entirely like alcohol, it is difficult to determine how much alcohol is in them, which often leads to over drinking. Over drinking can affect students’ physical, social and academic wellbeing.

The Boston University Police Department has noted that the number of alcohol violations and transports for the spring 2015 semester has increased compared to numbers from the spring 2014 semester, The Daily Free Press reported Thursday.

Mooney said BU Student Health Services tries to do whatever possible to inform students about the dangers of binge drinking and learn how to drink in a less dangerous way.

“One of the things we work really hard to educate students about our standard drink portion. A standard beer has the same alcohol content as one shot,” she said. “A student needs to be particularly aware of what they are consuming when drinking these so that they don’t drink more than they intend to.”

Several students said they recognize how super-sized flavored drinks can be risky.

Brock Guzman, a freshman in the College of Engineering, said the drinks are popular because of their cheap prices, and because some items contain caffeine, young drinkers find them even more appealing.

“It’s appealing because you can get really drunk and you stay awake,” he said. “They have caffeine in them and don’t really taste like alcohol.”

Sergio Araujo, a junior in Metropolitan College, said he has seen a friend in a dangerous scenario after consuming Four Loko, a popular super-sized alcoholic beverage. Though Four Loko’s contents used to include caffeine, the company chose to remove caffeine from their product in 2010.

“One guy I know drank them a lot, and he left a party alone, then he got lost in a snowstorm and was too drunk to find his way home,” he said. “He almost had to sleep in the snow.”

Jaqui Manning, a freshman in the College of General Studies, said she has seen firsthand the consequences when others drink the types of alcoholic beverages described in the study, as well as the products that contain caffeine.

“I’ve heard a lot of people have had really bad experiences with them,” she said. “Especially drinking them really fast is really dangerous because not only is there alcohol, but there is so much sugar and caffeine that goes into it, and your body sometimes can’t handle it.”

Source:  http://dailyfreepress.com/flavored-alcohol     6th March 2015

International Narcotics Control Board report says US and Uruguay are breaking drug treaties and warns of huge rise in abuse of ADHD treatment Ritalin

The United Nations has renewed its warnings to Uruguay and the US states of Colorado and Washington that their cannabis legalisation policies fail to comply with international drug treaties.

The annual report from the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board, which is responsible for policing the drug treaties, said it would send a high-level mission to Uruguay, which became the first country to legalise the production, distribution, sale and consumption of cannabis for recreational purposes.

The UN drug experts said they would also continue their dialogue with the US government over the commercial sale and distribution of cannabis in Colorado and Washington state.

The possession and cultivation of cannabis became legal on 26 February inWashington DC. Voters in Oregon and Alaska have also approved initiatives to legalise the commercial trade in cannabis for non-medicinal purposes.

The INCB said it “continues to engage in a constructive dialogue” with the US government on cannabis developments and it is clear the UN is putting strong pressure on the US government to ensure that the drug remains illegal at a federal level.

The US government has issued new guidance to banks on their provision of services to marijuana-related businesses and all state attorneys have been reminded of the need to investigate and prosecute cannabis cases in all states.

The INCB said it was aware that the US government intended to monitor the impact on public health of legalising cannabis and has again reminded the Obama administration that the position in Colorado and Washington meant the states were failing to comply with the treaties.

Lochan Naidoo, the INCB president, said the limitation of use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances to medical and scientific purposes was one of the fundamental principles underpinning the international drug control framework. “This legal obligation is absolute and leaves no room for interpretation,” he said.

The UN body also renewed its call for the abolition of the death penalty for drug-related offences and voiced concern that Oman was proposing to make use of the death penalty for drug-trafficking offences.

The INCB’s annual report records a further rise in the number of new “legal highs” or psychoactive substances that have been identified. The number has risen from 348 to 388 in the past year – an increase of more than 11%. More than 100 countries are taking action against “legal highs” and the INCB has welcomed moves by China, considered by many to be one of the main sources, to start banning these synthetic substances that imitate the effects of traditional drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy.

The UN drug board also warns of a 66% increase in the global consumption of a stimulant, methylphenidate, which is primarily used in the treatment of ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and is better known by one of its trade names, Ritalin. The rise has been seen in its use by teenagers and young adults in the US, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Australia.

It also highlights the lack of access for 5.5 billion people to medicines containing drugs such as codeine and morphine, which means that 75% of the world’s population do not have access to proper pain-relief treatment.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/society 3rd March 2015

An ITV documentary will take a look at the impact of drinking alcohol in pregnancy as one in 100 babies are born in Britain each year brain-damaged with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

These babies will go through life with a range of developmental, social and learning difficulties. A few will have tell-tale facial features which will make it easier to get a diagnosis and access support, but the majority will battle with an invisible disability.

What is FASD?

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is a series of preventable birth defects caused entirely by a woman drinking alcohol at any time during her pregnancy, often even before she knows that she is pregnant.

The term ‘spectrum’ is used because each individual with FASD may have some or all of a spectrum of mental and physical challenges. In addition each individual with FASD may have these challenges to a degree or ‘spectrum’ from mild to very severe.

These defects of both the brain and the body exist only because of prenatal exposure to alcohol.

What are the guidelines?

The Government’s current guidelines advise that those who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should avoid alcohol altogether – but then adds: “If women do choose to drink, to minimise the risk to the baby, we recommend they should not drink more than one to two units once or twice a week and they should not get drunk.”

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists had taken a similar view, although they referred to one or two units a week as a safe amount.

Spokesman Dr Pat O’Brien said: “If nobody drank any alcohol in pregnancy there would be no Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and no Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. But on the other hand if you look at all of the evidence there appears to be a safe level of alcohol intake in pregnancy.”

However earlier this month they updated their advice, recommending that pregnant women do not drink alcohol during the first three months of pregnancy. The advice does say that drinking small amounts of alcohol after this time does not appear to be harmful for the unborn baby, but that pregnant women should not drink more than one or two units, and then not more than once or twice a week.

Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green, former Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “Exposure to alcohol before birth is the single most important preventable cause of incurable brain damage. And it’s an issue which affects all of us in society.”

Source: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/ 3rd March 2015

Tough new laws, a boost to police to crush ice drug labs and better access to rehabilitation and needle exchange programs are central to the Andrews government’s $45.5 million plan to tackle Victoria’s ice epidemic. The package has been widely applauded as a positive first step by police and frontline social workers.

Premier Daniel Andrews said 80,000 Victorians used the highly addictive drug in the past year, which has driven up crime and made attacks on frontline service workers more common. The previous government introduced tougher sentences for people convicted of attacking emergency service workers, and Labor will spend $1 million to better protect and train frontline staff to deal with ice users. Mr Andrews said workers, including emergency services, had been getting by “on their wits” when dealing with ice users .

Under the $45.5 million package, $18 million has been allocated for more rehabilitation services, particularly in rural areas which have been struggling to keep up with demand. More users are now injecting the drug so existing needle and syringe programs will also be bolstered to reduce the danger of disease.

Labour will pursue four new laws in parliament, including punishing those who publish ice “recipe books” as well as those who push drugs near schools. Dealers who use stand-over tactics to force buyers to sell ice will also be punished as will landlords who allow manufacturing or dealing on their premises. “If you are a landlord or a nightclub owner and you turn a blind eye to the fact this poison is being manufactured in your premises or being dealt in your premises you are part of the problem.”

The $45.5million will be in May’s budget and will be spent over the next four years.

Police will receive a $4.5 million investment to expand the Forensic Drug Branch which will crackdown on clandestine drug labs, as well as increasing drug profiling and intelligence. A further $15 million will be spent on new drug and booze buses. Families of addicts will also receive a $4.7 million fund to help people identify users and direct them to services. Support for families will also be expanded and a dedicated Ice Help Line will be set up.

Sam Biondo, executive officer of the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association, said it was a “very positive move” to begin to address the complex problem. But Mr Biondo said there were still many issues that needed to be tackled, including looking at how the justice system approached the drug users.

He said the Napthine government’s  “tough on crime” rhetoric had helped exacerbate the problem, with Mr Biondo calling for a discussion on how people were rehabilitated. “There were a lot of words but the only actions were in corrections,” Mr Biondo said. He said diversion schemes would deliver far better outcomes than simply sending people into prison.

The Premier also flagged working with the Commonwealth and other states about stopping the importation of drugs as well as cracking down on “unexplained wealth” from suspected drug players.

The opposition welcomed the plan but also accused Labour of ripping out $5 million from community education forums and community grants programs.

“The fight against ice has bipartisan support, but Daniel Andrews’ record must be judged on his acts in cutting funding to ice programs,” opposition spokesman Tim Bull said. 

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/victorias-ice-crackdown 5th March 2015

There’s no future for salmon in Northern California’s Emerald Triangle.  

Marijuana’s Anti-Environmentalists

On California’s northern coast are three counties that marijuana aficionados call the Emerald Triangle. In their view, the growers there have perfected a strain of cannabis that has high potency and consistently high quality. Result: There are many growers, most tending their crops in remote corners of these mountainous, heavily wooded counties.

This produces serious environmental damage. In Humboldt County where the largest amount of Emerald Triangle marijuana is grown, the sheriff’s office conducted an aerial survey and counted 4,000 visible outdoor grows, nearly all of them illegal. (California was the first of 22 states to permit medical use of marijuana, so some grows were established to serve users who have permit cards.)

The illegal grows are usually carved out of forest land (often national forests or acreage owned by timber companies). Typically, the growers clear-cut the trees on the land they want to use, then bulldoze it to their specifications. Next, they divert a nearby stream to provide the one to six gallons required daily by each plant. They then fertilize the plants, causing runoff. This is followed by a generous dose of rat poison.

The upshot: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a week ago declared that stream diversion by marijuana plantations was robbing the rivers that the streams feed of enough cool water for Coho salmon to breed, thus threatening their survival. California’s north coast is big salmon country, for both sport and commercial fishing. The declaration earned banner headlines in the local press.

This week the USFWS said that it was considering seeking a “Threatened” status for the fisher, a native cousin to the weasel. Many fishers have been dying after ingesting the rat poison put out by marijuana planters.

Disruption of the soil for planting the crop and for cutting roads to some of the remote locations causes runoff that silts the area’s rivers—another preventable threat to the already endangered native salmon and steelhead.

In the area, a multi-agency task force has raided, on average, one marijuana plantation a week since January 2013. The biggest one, in August this year, yielded 10,000 plants; most have had several hundred. The plants are destroyed. The “harvest” often yields cash, weapons, and, sometimes other drugs (although multi-drug hauls tend to found in in-town dealer houses).

In addition to the cost of the raids, “grows” on public land require public resources to clean up and restore the affected area.

Environmentalists in the three counties are quick to run to the battlements and declare all-out war any time the state Transportation Department sets out to widen a highway. With the regular pot plantation raids, however, they are as silent as mice. Occasionally, one will opine in an interview that the problem would go away if marijuana were made legal. This outcome seems unlikely. Large companies might buy up some tracts for growing (along with getting the necessary permits and paying taxes); however, not every small grower will be able to compete; hence, the likelihood they would feed a black market, selling to heavy users at below-market prices. Thus, one problem would yield to another.

Source:  American spectator 9th October 2014

https://spectator.org/

California cannabis growers may be making millions, but their thirsty plants are sucking up a priceless resource: water. Now scientists say that if no action is taken in the drought-wracked state, the consequences for fisheries and wildlife will be dire.

“If this activity continues on the trajectory it’s on, we’re looking at potentially streams going dry, streams that harbor endangered fish species like salmon, steelhead,” said Scott Bauer of the California Department of Fish

Studying aerial photographs of four watersheds within northern California’s so-called Emerald Triangle, Bauer found that the area under marijuana cultivationdoubled between 2009 and 2012. It continues to grow, with increasing environmental consequences.

Bauer presented data to CNBC indicating that growers are drawing more than 156,000 gallons of water from a single tributary of the Eel River, in Mendocino County, every day.

The average marijuana plant needs about 6 gallons of water a day, depending on its size and whether it’s grown inside or outside, according to a local report that cited research. Pot growers object to that number, saying that the actual water use of a pot plant is much less.

Although the marijuana business has helped revive the local economy, residents may now be feeling the effects of living alongside growers. And, as growers—some legal, some not—face a severe drought, local law enforcement officers expect the fight over natural resources to intensify.

“I never want to see crime increase, but I have a feeling it will, because of the commodities that are up here,” said Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey. “When we get to the end of the grow season, which is August and September, the need for enhanced water availability is gonna be there, and I don’t think the water’s going to be there, so you’re going to see people, I believe, having some conflict over water rights.”

Stream water rules in California are the same for growers of marijuana as they are for growers of any crop: Growers should divert no more than 10 percent of a stream’s flow, and they should halt diversion altogether during late summer, when fish are most vulnerable to low water levels. But Bauer pointed out that those rules apply to permit holders, and most marijuana growers haven’t bothered to get permits.

With so much of California’s cannabis business operating in the more lucrative underground market, and with so many growers across the region, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s office say they lack the resources to take action against all offenders. So they target the most egregious.

“We get those calls daily. People are upset. Somebody has dried up a stream, somebody is building a road across sensitive fish and wildlife habitat, so that is happening on a daily basis,” Bauer said. “And we do our best with the personnel we have to respond to those calls.” Sheriff Downey concurred with Bauer about the manpower challenge authorities face.

“We have a very active marijuana unit that is out there, especially during the grow season. But we have so many grows here that we have a hard time keeping up or making a valiant dent in the marijuana growing in the county,” said Downey.

“With the increase in water usage and pressure upon that, that lucrative business becomes even more lucrative because the price of the marijuana, the value of it, goes up even though we’ve had a glut on the market the last few years,” he added.

One increasingly popular solution among some growers is the collection of rain water during the wetter, winter months that they can use to water crops during the dry, summer season.

“As long as cannabis farms remain small and decentralized, there’s no reason why we can’t grow everything we need to meet the state’s demands using all stored rain water,” says Hezekiah Allen, an environmental consultant and director of public affairs for the Emerald Growers Association.

And for some, it’s a business opportunity.   “I’ve heard people shut down their grow operations, bought water trucks and have changed from growing to supplying waters to the other growers,” said Chip Perry, a consultant for MC2, a service that helps people obtain medical marijuana cards.

Source:  nbcnews.com  July 7th 2014

This is your wilderness on drugs.

Starting about 90 miles northwest of Sacramento, an unbroken swath of national forestland follows the spine of California’s rugged coastal mountains all the way to the Oregon border. Near the center of this vast wilderness, along the grassy banks of the Trinity River’s south fork, lies the remote enclave of Hyampom (pop. 241), where, on a crisp November morning, I climb into a four-wheel-drive government pickup and bounce up a dirt logging road deep into the Six Rivers National Forest. I’ve come to visit what’s known in cannabis country as a “trespass grow.”

“This one probably has the most plants I’ve seen,” says my driver, a young Forest Service cop who spends his summers lugging an AR-15 through the backcountry of the Emerald Triangle—the triad of Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties that is to pot what the Central Valley is to almonds and tomatoes. Fearing retaliation from growers, the officer asks that I not use his name. Back in August he was hiking through the bush, trying to locate the grow from an aerial photo, when he surprised a guy carrying an iPod, gardening tools, and a 9 mm pistol on his hip. He arrested the man and alerted his tactical team, which found about 5,500 plants growing nearby, with a potential street yield approaching $16 million.

“This is unicorns and rainbows, isn’t it?” says wildlife ecologist Mourad Gabriel as he stuffs a garbage bag with trash the growers left behind.

Today, a work crew is hauling away the detritus by helicopter. Our little group, which includes a second federal officer and a Forest Service flack, hikes down an old skid trail lined with mossy oaks and madrones, passing the scat of a mountain lion, and a few minutes later, fresh black bear droppings. We follow what looks like a game trail to the lip of a wooded slope, a site known as Bear Camp. There, amid a scattering of garbage bags disemboweled by animals, we find the growers’ tarps and eight dingy sleeping bags, the propane grill where they had cooked oatmeal for breakfast, and the backpack sprayers they used to douse the surrounding 50 acres with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The air smells faintly of ammonia and weed. “This is unicorns and rainbows, isn’t it?” says Mourad Gabriel, a former University of California-Davis wildlife ecologist who has joined us at the site, as he maniacally stuffs a garbage bag with empty booze bottles, Vienna Beef sausage tins, and Miracle-Gro refill packs.

According to federal stats, trespass grows in California alone account for more than one-third of the cannabis seized nationwide by law enforcement, which means they could well be the largest single source of domestically grown marijuana. Of course, nobody can say precisely how much pot comes from indoor grows and private plots that are less accessible to the authorities. What’s clear is that California’s marijuana harvest is vast—”likely the largest value crop (by far) in the state’s lineup,” notes the Field Guide to California Agriculture. Assuming, as the guide does, that the authorities seize about 10 percent of the harvest, that means they would have left behind more than 10 million outdoor plants last year, enough to yield about $31 billion worth of product. That’s more than the combined value of the state’s top 10 legal farm commodities.

“It simply isn’t regulated, and the upshot is that nobody really knows what’s in their cannabis.”

Even before voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational pot in 2012, marijuana was quasi-legal in California, and not just for medical use. Senate Bill 1449, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010, reclassified possession of an ounce or less from a misdemeanor to a maximum $100 infraction—you’ll get a bigger fine for

jaywalking in Los Angeles. Indeed, many states have eased restrictions on pot use. But with the exception of Colorado and Washington, whose laws dictate where, how, and by whom marijuana may be grown, they have had little to say about the manner in which it is cultivated—which is challenging to dictate in any case, since growers who cooperate with state regulators could still be prosecuted under federal statutes that classify pot as a Schedule 1 drug, the legal equivalent of LSD and heroin. So where is all this legal and semilegal weed supposed to come from? The answer, increasingly, is an unregulated backwoods economy, the scale of which makes Prohibition-era moonshining look quaint.

To meet demand, researchers say, the acreage dedicated to marijuana grows in the Emerald Triangle has doubled in the past five years. Like the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s, this “green rush,” as it is known locally, has brought great wealth at a great cost to the environment. Whether grown in bunkers lit with pollution-spewing diesel generators, or doused with restricted pesticides and sown on muddy, deforested slopes that choke off salmon streams during the rainy season, this “pollution pot” isn’t exactly high quality, or even a quality high. “The cannabis industry right now is in sort of the same position that the meatpacking industry was in before The Jungle was written by Upton Sinclair,” says Stephen DeAngelo, the founder of Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, a large medical marijuana dispensary. “It simply isn’t regulated, and the upshot is that nobody really knows what’s in their cannabis.”

It’s not just stoners who are at risk. Trespass grows have turned up everywhere from a stand of cottonwoods in Death Valley National Park to a clearing amid the pines in Yosemite. “I now have to spend 100 percent of my time working on the environmental impacts of marijuana,” says Gabriel, who showed up at Bear Camp in military-style cargo pants and a kaffiyeh scarf. “I would never have envisioned that.”

Gabriel grew up in Fresno, the son of immigrants from Mexico and Iraq, at a time when the Central Valley city was plagued by turf wars among pot-dealing street gangs, notably the local Norteños chapter and their rivals, the Bulldogs. That world did not interest Gabriel, who spent a lot of his free time catching frogs and crawdads on the banks of the San Joaquin River. His love of the outdoors led him to study wildlife management at Humboldt State University, where he became fascinated with fishers, the only predators besides mountain lions clever and tough enough to prey on porcupines. The fisher, which resembles the love child of a ferret and a wolverine, was nearly eradicated from the West by logging and trapping during the early 20th century. It still hasn’t rebounded. This year, the US Fish and Wildlife Service will consider listing it as a threatened species.

On local blogs, people have threatened Gabriel and his family. In February, one of his dogs was fatally poisoned.

When Gabriel first began venturing into the woods to trap and radio-collar fishers, he assumed that most of them were dying from bobcat attacks, disease, and cars running them over. But then, in 2009, he discovered a dead fisher deep in the Sierra National Forest that showed no signs of any of those things. A toxicology test indicated that it had ingested large quantities of rat poison.

Back in his lab, he tested frozen tissue from 58 other fisher carcasses he’d collected on some of California’s most remote public lands and found rodenticide traces in nearly 80 percent of them. Rat poison isn’t used in national forests by anyone except marijuana cultivators, who put it out to protect their seedlings. Rodents that eat the poison stumble around for a few days before they die, making them easy prey for hungry fishers. In 2012, after Gabriel published his rat poison results, he was the target of angry calls and messages. One person accused him of helping the feds “greenwash the war on drugs.” Another made vague threats against his family and his dogs. Gabriel also

received a prying email, later traced by federal agents to Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, soliciting the locations of his home, office, and field study sites. In Lost Coast Outpost and other local news sites, commenters shared links to his home address. “Snitches end up in ditches,” one warned.

Then, last month, Gabriel’s Labrador retriever, Nyxo, died after someone fed him meat infused with De-Con rat bait.

Check out these 24 mind-blowing facts about marijuana production in America.

The types of threats Gabriel has received are not uncommon, and they have frightened scientists away from studying the environmental impacts of pot farming. “At my university, there is nobody who will even go near it,” says Anthony Silvaggio, a sociologist with the state university’s Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research. Biologists who used to venture into the wilderness alone to survey wildlife now often pair up for protection. In July 2011, armed growers in the Sequoia National Forest chased a federal biologist through the woods for a half-hour before giving up. The following year, researchers surveying northern spotted owls on Humboldt County’s Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation were shot at with high-caliber rifles. Each growing season, a significant chunk of one designated fisher habitat in the Sierra National Forest becomes inaccessible to scientists because it’s dangerously close to illegal gardens.

Gabriel won’t go near a known grow site before it’s been cleared by law enforcement, as Bear Camp has. Scattered across the hillside, his team finds 4,200 pounds of chemical fertilizer, five kinds of insecticide, and three kinds of rodenticide. The stash includes a restricted pesticide capable of killing humans in small doses. Gabriel’s friend and colleague Mark Higley dons a gas mask and seals the canister in a garbage bag. “If it does erupt, I want everyone to be at least 20 to 30 feet away,” Gabriel warns. “It’s aluminum phosphide, and when it hits the air, it turns into phosphine gas.” Breathing it can kill you.

The Emerald Triangle’s pot culture has changed a lot since the hippies drove up from San Francisco in the early 1970s in search of peace, freedom, and blissful communion with nature. At first, the back-to-the-landers grew pot primarily for themselves, but news that the United States was paying to have Mexican pot farms sprayed with paraquat, a toxic weed killer, convinced American stoners to seek out the hippie weed.

Before long, Humboldt had become a name brand, but marijuana might never have come to define the Emerald Triangle had the old-growth timber industry not logged itself out of business by the mid-1990s. In 1996, when California became the first state to legalize pot for medical use, out-of-work loggers took advantage of the opportunity. “Then you had everybody like, ‘Sure, I’ll grow some weed,'” recalls Humboldt State’s Silvaggio. The size of the harvest grew, helped along by post-9/11 border enforcement, which made it harder for Mexican pot to enter the country. The latest leap in production was the result of Prop. 19, California’s 2010 legalization measure; although it lost narrowly at the polls, the Emerald Triangle’s growers boosted output in anticipation of having a mainstream product. Now marijuana “is all we have,” Silvaggio says. “Every other thing is built here to serve that economy.”

Drive around the Emerald Triangle during harvest season with the radio on, and you’ll hear ads openly pitching Dutch hydroponic lamps, machines “for trimming flowers,” and 2,800-gallon water storage tanks—because “you don’t want to be the one that has to call the water truck in for multiple water deliveries late in the season.” Even mainstream businesses like furniture stores get in on the green rush with “harvest sales.” Talk of bud-trimming parties and the going price per pound dominates restaurant conversations. And in backwoods hamlets where you’d expect high unemployment, you come across a lot of $50,000 pickups.

With prices dropping as domestic supply expands, “you’ve got to go bigger these days to make the amount of money you used to make.”

As with much of the state’s agricultural industry, the pot trade is stratified, and much of the labor is done by undocumented farmworkers. The man arrested at Bear Camp confessed to the police that he’d traveled north from Michoacán, Mexico, to pick apples in Washington, but knew he could make more money tending pot in California. Industry observers believe that at least some of the trespass grows are run from south of the border, but Silvaggio adds that many are financed by locals. Either way, the grunt workers tend to be the only ones busted when the grows are raided.

Although the original Northern California growers saw pot cultivation as an extension of their hippie lifestyles, their environmental values haven’t readily carried over to the next generation. “They are given a free pass to become wealthy at a young age, to get what they want,” Silvaggio explains. “And do you think they are going to give it up when they turn 20, with a kid in the box? They can’t get off that gravy train.” But with prices dropping as domestic supply expands, “you can’t go smaller; you’ve got to go bigger these days to make the amount of money you used to make. So what does that mean? You have to get another generator. You have to take more water. You’ve got to spray something because you may lose 20, 30 grand if you don’t.”

Smaller growers operating on their own properties tend to use slightly better environmental practices— avoiding rodenticides, for instance—than the industrial growers who have moved in solely to make money. Even so, Silvaggio says, “we found that it’s just a tiny fraction of folks who are growing organic.”

Among the downsides of the green rush is the strain it puts on water resources in a drought-plagued region. Scott Bauer, a biologist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, calculates that irrigation for cannabis farms has sucked up all of the water that would ordinarily keep local salmon streams running through the dry season. Marijuana cultivation, he believes, “is a big reason why” at least 24 salmon and steelhead streams stopped flowing last summer. “I would consider it probably the No. 1 threat” to salmon in the area, he told me. “We are spending millions of dollars on restoring streams. We are investing all this money in removing roads and trying to contain sediment and fixing fish path barriers, but without water there’s no fish.”

Thirty square miles in one Emerald Triangle watershed, where pot farms siphon up roughly 29 million gallons of water per season California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

 

At Bear Camp, Gabriel leads me to a steep slope where the growers have plugged a freshwater spring with a makeshift dam of logs and tarps, one of 17 water diversions found at the site. Where moisture-loving ferns and horsetails should be flourishing, a plastic pipe leads downhill to a 1,000-gallon reservoir feeding a vast irrigation network. Gabriel unkinks a hose to release an arc of water from a sprinkler. National Guard troops enlisted to help out have already yanked the cannabis plants here, leaving behind a hillside of girdled white oaks and bare soil. “When we have a two-to-four-inch rain, this will just be a mud river,” Gabriel says. Sediment laced with pesticides and other chemicals will find its way into the salmon stream below. We hike down to a clearing where a helicopter is pulling out sling loads of irrigation piping. “Look at this!” Gabriel shouts after plunging into a thicket to help the soldiers rip out another dam. “Insect killer right in the middle of it!”

He and his colleagues have seen much worse. At a grow site in July, he found a fisher that had died from eating one of many poisoned hot dogs strung around the site on a trotline. A state game warden raiding a grow in 2011 discovered a black bear and her cubs convulsing on the ground, having eaten into a stash of pesticides. Two threatened northern spotted owls, the species once at the center of a bitter fight between loggers and environmentalists, tested positive for rodenticides in Gabriel’s lab; he’s now looking into whether toxins from grow sites could be impeding that species’ recovery as well. “When there is no adequate regulatory framework,” Silvaggio warns, “you are going to have nature taking a hit.”

Most growers just want to be left alone, but the small minority who are politically outspoken tend to favor regulation. Kristin Nevedal chairs the Emerald Growers Association, the triangle’s marijuana trade group. The coauthor of an ecofriendly pot-farming guide, she often consults with state and local lawmakers about how to make the industry more responsible. “Prohibition hasn’t curbed the desire for cannabis,” she says. “So we really need to look at changing our policy and starting to treat it like agriculture, so we can manage it.”

“The trespass grows are really an issue because of prohibition,” says one enviro. The growers “are just a symptom. The real disease is the failed drug war.”

One of the most serious efforts on that front was a system put in place by Mendocino County, which as of 2010 allowed the cultivation of up to 99 plants, provided growers registered and tagged each one with zip ties purchased from the county. Sheriff’s deputies monitored the grow sites and checked that they complied with environmental laws. “That program was in a lot of ways fabulous,” Nevedal recalls. Almost 100 growers participated, but the program was shut down in early 2012, after federal agents raided one of the grows and US Attorney Melinda Haag hinted that she might just take the county to court. Later that year, a federal grand jury subpoenaed the county’s zip tie records.

Since then, efforts to regulate pot farming have mostly shifted to the state level. In Colorado, pot vendors are required to list on their packaging all the farm chemicals used to produce their products, and the state recently implemented a “seed to sale” tracking system. Most Coloradans grow indoors due to the climate, which reduces pesticide use and makes it easier to keep pot off the black market, but it’s highly energy intensive. In the journal Energy Policy, researcher Evan Mills estimated that indoor grows suck up enough electricity to supply 1.7 million homes—in California, they account for a whopping 9 percent of household energy use. The newly minted regulations for Washington state allow outdoor grows so long as they are well fenced and outfitted with security cameras and an alarm system.

In the next few years, new legalization measures appear destined for the ballot in California, Alaska, and Oregon. But while it may help create a market for responsibly grown cannabis, legalizing pot in a few states won’t wipe out the black market, with its steep environmental toll. There’s simply too much money to be made shipping weed to New Yorkers at $3,600 per pound, and too few cops to find all the grows and rip them out. “The trespass grows are really an issue because of prohibition,” says Gary Hughes, the executive director of the Environmental Protection Information Center, a 37-year-old Emerald Triangle environmental group that cut its teeth fighting the logging industry. “It is not the growers who are a disease. They are just a symptom. The real disease is the failed drug war.”

Yet without the drug war, the region’s pot sector might fade into oblivion. Take away the threat of federal raids, and to some extent pot becomes just another row crop, grown en masse wherever it’s cheapest. “A shift in cultivation to the Central Valley is definitely possible,” Hughes acknowledges.

There will likely still be a niche for the Emerald Triangle growers who started it all, Nevedal believes, just as there has been for craft whiskey distilleries in post-Prohibition Kentucky. Growing really good weed is simply too much work and too much strain on the environment to make sense on an industrial scale. As it happens, Nevedal speculates, the Emerald Triangle might just end up where it started, providing artisanal dank for a high-end market. “The future,” she says, “is the small family farm.” By Josh Harkinson

Source:     www.motherjones.com | March/April 2014 Issue

 

 

 

The only thing green about that bud is its chlorophyll.

You thought your pot came from environmentally conscious hippies? Think again. The way marijuana is grown in America, it turns out, is anything but sustainable and organic. Check out these mind-blowing stats, and while you’re at it, read Josh Harkinson’s feature story, “The Landscape-Scarring, Energy-Sucking, Wildlife-Killing Reality of Pot Farming.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources: Jon Gettman (2006), US Forest Service (California outdoor grow stats include small portions of Oregon and Nevada), Office of National Drug Control Policy, SF Public Utilities Commission, Evan Mills (2012).

 

Even as states legalize marijuana, some U.S. officials are demanding tougher sentences for illegal pot growers if they also invade public lands, kill native vegetation and wildlife, and spread toxic pesticides. The officials’ environmental concerns took center stage at a hearing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a government body that guides federal judges on penalties for convicted criminals. Illegal marijuana crops often are grown by Mexican drug cartels that find it easier to plant on the U.S. side of the border rather than smuggle in the drugs, say prosecutors and law enforcement officials.   Sometimes armed, the growers plant huge gardens in remote parts of national forests and parks, setting up clandestine camps, diverting streams for irrigation and spreading pesticides, some so poisonous they are banned in the United States, the officials say. Christopher Boehm, assistant director in the U.S. Forest Service’s investigations arm, told the commission that the problem could become worse as marijuana acceptance increases, with growers trying to meet higher demand by expanding crops on public lands.   Marijuana is legal for medical use in 20 states, and Colorado and Washington state have legalized its sale for recreational use. The U.S. Justice Department, joining the call for tougher environmental penalties, proposed increasing prison time by months or even years by treating illegal marijuana growers more like methamphetamine producers, who use toxic chemicals. The proposal’s impact would vary widely depending on the criminal history of each defendant.   In the U.S. House of Representatives, Jared Huffman of California – where the bulk of marijuana is grown – has led a bipartisan drive for sentencing changes to consider environmental harm and has been joined by Utah Republican Orrin Hatch and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein in the Senate. The lawmakers’ call for harsher penalties contrasts with the Obama administration’s move to slash jail time for federal drug defendants to try to cut the ballooning prison population.  “It may seem contradictory that someone in my position would on the one hand be arguing for stronger criminal penalties on this problem and simultaneously arguing for decriminalization as the ultimate solution,” Huffman told

Reuters in a phone interview. “But that is the only responsive approach. It gets at the immediate problem and the longer-term solution.”  Huffman represents Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties in northern California known as “the Emerald Triangle” for their long history as the epicenter of U.S. marijuana cultivation. GROWING PROBLEM In 1996, California passed a law that allows marijuana growth for medical use, but any cultivation on federal land is considered a crime under the Controlled Substances Act. The drug remains illegal under federal law. That leaves state regulators stretched between trying to regulate the environmental practices of legal medical growing operations, while combating the illegal ones in the forests.  In the United States, the problem has grown in recent years. In an informational video, the U.S. Forest Service said that in the 1990s rangers might find patches of a few hundred plants but now regularly discover huge operations with many thousands of plants. A single plant can use up to 15 gallons of water per day, the Forest Service says, and fish populations can be hurt when natural water sources are dammed or drained. In 2012, nearly one million marijuana plants were found and destroyed at 471 sites on National Forest lands in 20 states across the country, lawmakers say.  . State and federal agencies, as well as private land holders, often get stuck with the clean-up bill. “(They) bring clothes and old tents and plastic waste and beer cans, and we have to clean all that crap up so the animals don’t eat it and it doesn’t pollute our rivers and lakes and streams,” said Jay Green, an agent at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement division in California. “They should be held accountable for that.”  In the past, prosecutors have used different measures to try to win restitution awards when growers are arrested, charging them with depredation of public land or violations of federal pesticide regulations in addition to the drug charges.  Federal environmental regulators are in a bit of a quandary also about policing legal growers. In the “Emerald Triangle,” private land cultivated with marijuana doubled between 2009 and 2012 as growers from around the country flocked to the area in a “green rush” to supply medical marijuana dispensaries, said Scott Bauer from California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Some medical marijuana growers – with outside fields or indoor greenhouses – use a large amount of water and fertilizers but are not subject to the same federal rules as traditional farmers, said the EPA’s Green. He said the chemical run-off from legal plots can flow into storm drains or sewers, which for a conventional farmer would require a permit from the EPA. But because marijuana is illegal under federal law, the EPA is not allowed to permit a pot farm.

Source:   Reuters  March 2014 

Filed under: Environment,USA :

It requires 70 gallons of diesel fuel to produce one indoor Cannabis plant, or 140 gallons with smaller, less-efficient gasoline generators. In California, the top-producing state, indoor cultivation is responsible for about 3% of all electricity use or 8% of household use, somewhat higher than estimates previously made
for British Columbia.17 This corresponds to the electricity use of 1 million average
California homes, greenhouse-gas emissions equal to those from 1 million average cars, and energy expenditures of $3 billion per year. Due to higher electricity prices and cleaner fuels used to make electricity, California incurs 70% of national energy costs but contributes only 20% of national CO2 emissions from indoor Cannabis cultivation.

From the perspective of individual consumers, a single Cannabis cigarette represents 2 pounds of CO2 emissions, an amount equal to running a 100-watt light bulb for 17 hours assuming average U.S. electricity emissions (or 30 hours on California’s cleaner grid).

The emissions associated with one kilogram of processed Cannabis are equivalent to those of driving across country 5 times in a 44-mpg car. One single production module doubles the electricity use of an average U.S. home and triples that of an average California home. The added electricity use is equivalent to running about 30 refrigerators.

Producing one kilogram of processed Cannabis results in 3,000 kilograms of CO2 emissions. The energy embodied in the production of inputs such as fertilizer, water, equipment, and building materials is not estimated here and should be considered in future assessments.

Source: http://evan-mills.com/energy-associates/Indoor.html April 2011

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