Reports stacked up since last spring on the environmental damage from commercial pot agriculture. I first stumbled across the issue in the course of gathering reports on the water scarcity crisis and drought in California. By the summer, as California's drought deepened, so many news journalists and bloggers were addressing marijuana's contribution to water scarcity and other serious environmental problems, I didn't my blog could contribute anything to the discussion.
This morning I decided to delete the reports from my file. I was stopped by today's headlines at Google News about California's drought. I hadn't paid attention to the situation for months, not since a series of "Pineapple Express" storms roaring across the Pacific from Hawaii had dumped deluges on California.
At that time I thought, 'See? They'll muddle through somehow.'
But it turned out the tropical storms hitting California were like a glass of water thrown on a hot griddle. Meanwhile, El Niño did not deliver hoped-for big rains to the state. The latest headlines are that hope for a big snowpack in the Sierra Nevada has faded, San Francisco didn't see rain in January for the first time in 165 years, and that 40 percent of the state is still in an "exceptional" drought.
All these signs point to California heading into the fourth year of a severe drought and that the cumulative effects of the earlier drought years will wreak catastrophe on the state this year.
Ironically, it took the worsening drought in California last year to bring the environmental issues connected with pot farming into the spotlight, even though Associated Press had reported on the issues as early as 2008. The only press outlet that picked up the AP story was the Christian Science Monitor. The few other mainstream reports on the crisis since then couldn't get traction -- until last year.
Yet after a score of big-name press outlets raised hell this past summer about the evils of unrestricted marijuana farming, the issue plummeted back into the mainstream's Pit of Studious Silence.
So I'll play the fool, as long as the reports are at my fingertips. Several of them are from last year; a few go back much earlier. I'm not going to make an attempt to organize them, beyond what I did when I wrote about the issue. I'm not sure at this point whether I'll publish any of the writings; it would mean editing work.
Of course there is the Take It or Leave It Warts and All school of blogging, but I'll see.
For now, it's literal potluck posting at Pundita blog for the rest of this week, or until I can't stand looking any longer at that many tragic stories.
For crying out loud, marijuana isn't kudzu; it doesn't creep around strangling other plants. It's a sweet innocent plant when left to its own devices. So how did its cultivation end up in the same category as blood diamonds, conflict palm oil, and the trade in elephant tusks?
Actually I did learn how it happened by the time I'd plowed through scores of reports. I wish I'd never found out because I see no humane way to get the situation under control. If after studying the reports you see a way that doesn't involve a totalitarian police state, or shoving legal marijuana cultivation for U.S. consumption onto some hardscrabble countries that are already ecological basket cases, I'm all ears.