Pubdate: Thu, 11 Sep 2014
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2014 The Times-Herald
Author: Michael J. Haworth


Illegal marijuana grow sites continue to thrive in our national 
forests because recreational marijuana use, although against the law, 
just doesn't seem to go away. Think of it as prohibition for the new 
millennium. Instead of backwoods stills producing alcohol, we have 
hidden gardens producing pot.

This, of course, has been going on for decades, but it wasn't until 
our ongoing drought that it became a more serious problem. Cannabis 
plants require lots of water and, generally, this water is diverted 
from rivers and streams. We all feel the impact of that ... some much 
more directly than others. Water sources may run dry by fall for 200 
families on the Yurok Indian reservation in Humboldt County due to 
growers diverting water for pot farms.

Water diversion isn't the only distasteful aspect of these farms. The 
criminal element guarding the grows can put a damper on a family 
hiking experience. Native plants are clear-cut to make room. Rat 
poison, used to protect young plants, is a danger to wildlife. 
Pesticides damage the environment. Tons of trash is left behind by the growers.

U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, is lobbying for more federal 
funds to add manpower, and presumably weaponry, to "defend our 
national lands." We've thrown money at this problem for years, but 
because the forest lands are so massive, and the growers so good at 
what they do, there has been no discernible drop off of marijuana 
availability ... or so I'm told. An old Bloom County comic strip 
showed the feds confiscating 1 percent of the nation's marijuana 
crop. The result? The cost of marijuana went up 1 percent.

Since 2010, California voters have had the opportunity to stop this 
destruction by legalizing marijuana for recreational use, but have 
chosen not to, even though polls indicated legalization was favored 
by a majority.

Had recreational marijuana legalization become law in our state, 
there would be no need for illegal grows ... anywhere. The last I 
heard, there will be no legalization measure on our November ballot. 
That's a shame, because with the way the law has been implemented in 
Colorado and Washington, with mostly positive results, I think voters 
are ready to say yes, not just in the polls, but at the ballot box.

Legalize recreational marijuana ... and leave policing the forests to 
the Forest Rangers.

Michael J. Haworth /Vallejo
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