Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

June 4, 2010
Views of Humboldt pot pollution cite problems indoors and out

Marijuana may be the renowned cash crop in Humboldt County. But two reports in recent months suggest it is bad medicine for the regional environment.

In an article in the North Coast Journal, two research engineers at the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University took issue with excessive energy use of thriving indoor marijuana grow rooms.

"There are environmental consequences of what we're doing," wrote Peter Lehman and Peter Johnstone. They suggested that Humboldt pot rooms use enough electricity to power "13,000 typical homes" and put "20,000 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere."

"And that's without considering the energy and environmental costs of using chemical fertilizers, which are significant," they wrote.

Lehman and Johnstone instead endorsed environmentally sustainable practices of conscientious outdoor cultivators that "grow marijuana in the sunshine, where it is meant to be grown with no pesticides, fungicides or artificial fertilizers." They also suggested that any greenhouse operations be solar powered.

Meanwhile, a recent video report produced by UC Berkeley graduate student Kate McLean offered a grim - and grimy - view on pollution from abundant, often haphazard outdoor marijuana growing operations.

McLean's report, for University of California Television and CNS News, described fuel spills and environmental contamination from illicit outdoor growing - often from illegal networks coming into the county - and remote, "off-the-grid" grow houses.

Her report can be seen below.

Pot farms and pollution from Kate McLean on Vimeo.

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