California Pot Crop is Sucking Streams Dry, New Report Says

With its dense forests, foggy climate and rugged coastline, California’s Humboldt County has long been synonymous with its biggest cash crop: marijuana. Cannabis has thrived here — both before and since the state legalized it for medical purposes in 1996. The industry has been booming in the last few years, and with little regulation it has had a huge impact on the environment.

A report, published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife earlier this month, quantifies some of that impact for the first time.

Researchers looked at marijuana plants grown outdoors, including those in greenhouses, on private land. They found that marijuana farming is overtaxing creeks during the growing season, which runs from May to September, a period of little rainfall in the state, the report notes. The water usage is so intense, in fact, that water diverted for marijuana cultivation likely exceeds stream flow in certain areas.

Additional research from state wildlife biologists that isn’t included in the report shows marijuana cultivation was partly to blame for several creeks that dried up last year.

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.