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    Dirty Weed Is Poisoning the Emerald Triangle

    Written by

    Brian Anderson

    Features Editor

    via Mother Jones

    I've said it here before and I'll say it again: Nine times out of 10, growing weed is a dirty job. 

    Dirty in the greenest sense. Not only can growing cannabis be a massive electricity suck. Now more than ever, as legalization spreads, unregulated outdoor weed farms in Northern California, long the fertile crescent of US bud, are simultaneously fouling up and depleting rivers and watersheds. The unsavory environmental impact of these grows, the most dirtiest of which are tended by drug cartels, is nothing new, but a piece today in the New York Times paints it clearly:

    Hilltops have been leveled to make room for the crop. Bulldozers start landslides on erosion-prone mountainsides. Road and dam construction clogs some streams with dislodged soil. Others are bled dry by diversions. Little water is left for salmon whose populations have been decimated by logging.

    And it's not just salmon. Increasingly, fertilizer runoff and wood-rat poisons like d-Con have been showing up in post-mortem analyses of rare Pacific fischers and endangered spotted owls. 

    Data on the true scope of such dirty grows--problem children for lifers who swear by sun-grown product, and nothing else--is still hard to come by. Humboldt State University sociology lecturer Anthony Silvaggio offers some anecdotal evidence in a Google Earth flyover, as seen above. But here are another 113,664 reasons to clean up our act. 

    Reach Brian at brian@motherboard.tv. @thebanderson

    More weed:

    High Country - Part 1

    High Country - Part 2

    The Confusing Science of Getting Stoned