Fantastic article that should be read by all authored by Maria Gatta Ecology and Conservation Biology University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
The industrialization of cannabis throughout North America, Europe & Australia will and already does have an effect on the environment and wildlife and the rush for the mighty dollar through huge infrastructure projects, market listings and cannabis as a profit and loss exercise may well be as damaging for the environment as the black market version . It is a discussion that is severely lacking in the sector.
We rarely say an article is a must read.. this piece is a must must read
Published by Massive Science Gatta writes by way of introduction
Legalization or decriminalization of marijuana has seen a rise throughout the last decade. However, learning where cannabis is grown and what effects, if any, it has on wildlife is not easy. In the United States, cannabis has a semi-legal status in many states: legal (for medical and/or recreational use) in the state, illegal according to the federal government.
This semi-legal status has hampered research not just on marijuana, but also on the effects of marijuana legalization and its cultivation. It also means marijuana crops are often not accountable to the federal environmental laws other crops are. Some of the known side-effects of marijuana cultivation include land clearing, diversion of surface water, pesticide use, and wildlife poaching.
But this is very much the beginning of our understanding of the environmental effects of large-scale marijuana cultivation. We know even less about wildlife’s interactions with marijuana plantations. Much of the little knowledge we have is based on information gleaned directly or indirectly from illegal marijuana grows.
If trends are any indication, though, legal or decriminalized marijuana is here to stay. In which case, we need to know more about its potential medicinal effects, its detrimental health effects, and the production process of this emerging crop.
Previous research on the effects of marijuana plantations on wildlife have been incidental: a fisher found dead in a remote part of Sierra Nevada, Calfornia, whose necropsy revealed it had died from rodenticide poisoning; a spotted owl found dead in Humboldt County, California, who died of emaciation and parasitism, with significant amounts of rodenticide in its liver and blood. These findings were eventually related to illegal marijuana grows, where pesticides (among other environmental transgressions) are used without any regulatory control.