War Between Pot-Farmers & Environmentalists?

We sometimes say, and many of you disagree, that Both U.S. Political Parties Oppose Science. Yes, many creationists are now Republicans, but the Democrats have their own science problems. Our last post on this topic was only a week ago: 2017’s Darwin Day Resolution in US Senate.

Today we found something at PhysOrg that has potential to make our point. It’s titled Legal marijuana sales creating escalating damage to the environment.

Think about that for a minute. Environmentalists tend to be on the liberal side of the political spectrum. Such people often favor the legalization of marijuana. There may be an intra-party conflict here. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Marijuana sales have created an economic boom in U.S. states that have fully or partially relaxed their cannabis laws, but is the increased cultivation and sale of this crop also creating escalating environmental damage and a threat to public health?

Egad — for many people, that’s a difficult question. Then we’re told:

In an opinion piece published by the journal Environmental Science and Technology, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Lancaster University in the U.K. have called on U.S. federal agencies to fund studies that will gather essential environmental data from the legal cultivation farms and facilities.

This is the article they’re talking about: High Time to Assess the Environmental Impacts of Cannabis Cultivation. You can read it online without a subscription, but we’ll stay with PhysOrg, which tells us:

State-by-state legalization is effectively creating a new industry in U.S., one that looks set to rival all but the largest of current businesses. In Colorado alone, sales revenues have reached $1 billion, roughly equal to that from grain farming in the state. By 2020 it is estimated that country-wide legal marijuana sales will generate more annual revenue than the National Football League.

But [the authors of the article] … say that this expanded cultivation carries with it serious environmental effects. Their article points out that cannabis is an especially needy crop requiring high temperatures (25-30 °C for indoor operations), strong light, highly fertile soil and large volumes of water – around twice that of wine grapes. In addition, the authors state that the few available studies of marijuana cultivation have uncovered potentially significant environmental impacts due to excessive water and energy demands and local contamination of water, air, and soil.

You see the problem, don’t you? Hold on, there’s even more:

For example, a study of illegal outdoor grow operations in northern California found that rates of water extraction from streams threatened aquatic ecosystems. High levels of growth nutrients, as well as pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, also found their way back into the local environment, further damaging aquatic wildlife.

Controlling the indoor growing environment requires considerable energy with power requirements estimated to be similar to that of Google’s massive data centers. No significant data has been collected on the air pollution impacts on worker’s public health inside these growing facilities or the degradation of outdoor air quality due to emissions produced by the industrial scale production of marijuana.

It looks like this is a fertile area for research, so to speak. The PhysOrg article continues:

The continued expansion of legalization by the states does offer significant opportunities for the US Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Institutes of Health (NIH, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to fund research into legal cannabis cultivation to protect the environment.

Now the pot-growers are going to have to deal with government regulations. When that happens, they’ll start sounding like Republicans.

Our last excerpt is a quote from William Vizuete, one of the authors of the published paper:

There are also significant potential public health issues caused by emissions from the plants themselves rather than smoking it. These emissions cause both indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Okay, dear reader. Now we’ll see whether there’s a political party that is consistently pro-science. Your Curmudgeon boldly predicts that the pot-growers will behave like the oil companies — they’ll deny the science. But maybe not. We’ve been wrong before.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “War Between Pot-Farmers & Environmentalists?

  1. Pot growers may deny the science, but will environmentalists? There may be an intra-party conflict, but I don’t see how this shows the Democrats are anti-science – let alone more anti-science than the Republicans.
    But that leftists can be anti-science is something I have known since long before I found your nice blog. Three words: Greenpeace, Brent Spar.

  2. mnb0 says: “There may be an intra-party conflict, but I don’t see how this shows the Democrats are anti-science – let alone more anti-science than the Republicans.”

    But that’s my whole point. There are anti-science groups in both parties.

  3. Pro-business EPA head Pruitt will counter any environmentalist argument by throwing environmental regulations away. Pot will be 2nd to oil & gas in this country if it’s a big money maker as anticipated by supporters.

  4. Liberal bugaboos include nuclear power and vaccinations although the anti-vax crowd seems to be mostly well off and crosses party lines. But while democrats have their anti-science elements, it’s way more common to see anti-science views enshrined in party platforms on the R side of the aisle. They are also more organized about it.

  5. Our Curmudgeon points out:

    Yes, many creationists are now Republicans, but the Democrats have their own science problems.

    Sure. But tu quoque is about the lamest rhetorical schtick in the book. And using it here does not at all advance the good fight to defend the values of the Enlightenment; rather, it reads like a partisan excuse to let Republican morlocks off the hook–which I don’t think is your intent.

    And the association made here between “the liberal side of the political spectrum” and those who “favor the legalization of marijuana” is also less than compelling–or, no more compelling than my anecdotal account that I have more often encountered libertarians rather than liberals who advocate legalisation of cannabis. But YMMV

  6. “… it’s way more common to see anti-science views enshrined in party platforms on the R side of the aisle. They are also more organized about it.”

    For a stunning example of that simply see the Texas Republican Party Platform rejecting the teaching of critical thinking!

    “Texas GOP rejects ‘critical thinking’ skills. Really.”
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/texas-gop-rejects-critical-thinking-skills-really/2012/07/08/gJQAHNpFXW_blog.html

  7. I would also add that many off those environmental effects could be avoided if we could import the stuff. The only way to legally obtain pot in Colorado is to grow it there since you can’t bring it across state lines, right? It’s the law of restricted choice.

  8. Make it legal, tax it and regulate it.

    Besides, if it becomes widely legalized, high-cost, high-risk illegal operations will vanish and it will become like any other crop, subject to cost pressures for energy, water, pesticides, etc., and environmental regulations.

  9. If the growers industry is dominated by astro travelers and Maui Waui users, how will they be able to construct a defense of their industry’s environmental effects if they’re always busy ordering pizzas and trying to figure out where they left their stash? I guess they’ll need to get law firms whose attorneys are strictly coke users in order to make their case.

  10. “But that’s my whole point.”
    And my point is that you don’t have made that point in your article. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong, only that you just haven’t demonstrated it.

  11. So … how does “the few available studies of marijuana cultivation have uncovered potentially significant environmental impacts due to excessive water and energy demands and local contamination of water, air, and soil.” get inflated into “Legal marijuana sales creating escalating damage to the environment.”

    So “potentially significant” equates to “escalating damage.”

    I don’t smoke anything so I don’t have a dog in this race but I do have a concern about the grinding of axes journalisticly.

  12. techreseller

    Simple answer. Organically grown pot. Myself, were I to buy legally grown pot, would want to know it was organically grown. If I am going to ingest this stuff, either smoked or in a brownie, I want no pesticides, fungicides etc.