Weed and Water in California: Pot Isn’t the Problem

California has been in a drought for the past four years. Most of the state has received under 10 inches of rain, meeting the criteria to be labeled a desert. This conundrum has made California a testing ground for a battle over water rights, where cannabis growers are being unjustly scapegoated as the culprits behind the worst drought the state has seen in over a millennium.

It all started when a recent study conducted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife found that illegal and unregulated cannabis growing could potentially be a threat to sensitive wildlife and their habitat. The researchers use many qualifying words in their study, because many of the facts aren’t sufficiently well-known to properly say how big of a threat cannabis growing could be to endangered species like the Coho salmon. Regrettably, most journalists reported on this uncertainty with headlines like “Pot is Making California’s Epic Drought Worse” and “California is in One of its Worst-Ever Droughts Because People Are Growing Too Much Weed.”

David Downs, with SFGate’s Smell the Truth, is one of the only journalists to get it right, properly recognizing that cannabis growing is a “tiny sliver of water use in the state.” The study estimates that the average cannabis plant takes 6 gallons of water every day. Chris Van Hook, founder of the Clean Green organic cannabis certification program, estimates that while plants begin taking about a gallon of water a month they can end up consuming nearly 15 gallons a day. Chris estimates that all the growing in Mendocino county consumes about 32 million gallons at the height of growing season.

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.