Category Archives: California

Environmental Damage Wrought by Pot

Marijuana is Far from Green

Marijuana farms are fouling the ecosystem and draining energy and water resources in states that have liberalized their marijuana laws. Governor Jerry Brown blames California’s wildfires on climate change, but he ignores marijuana, the biggest cause of environmental damage to his state.   The environmental damage in California alone will be in the billions of dollars.  This will be more costly than Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster.

Check out two recent television news reports on the crisis:  CBS News: Marijuana Illegal Grow Mount Shasta Siskiyou County and CBS News: Toxic Chemicals California Wildlife Marijuana Grows.

Dr. Mourad Gabriel is the executive director of the non-profit Integral Ecology Research Center, based in Blue Lake, California. He studies endangered wildlife.  When high levels of toxic rodenticides were first found in dead wildlife, it set off alarm bells, but Dr. Gabriel couldn’t figure out the source of the poison. At a scientific conference, he learned that drug cartels were setting up illegal marijuana farms in wilderness lands.

Illegal Marijuana Grows on Wilderness Lands in Siskiyou County as seen from Google Earth

As he now leads investigations deep into the forest to locate and shut down these dangerous operations, he needs to wear kevlar, a protective body armor.  One of the marijuana gangsters poisoned and killed Gabriel’s dog a few years ago, trying to scare him away.  See the article in The Atlantic, Illegal Pot Farms are Poisoning California’s Forests.

Losing our Water and Natural Resources

These environmental travesties threaten America’s pristine natural wonders near Mount Shasta and Lake Tahoe.  One former California resident warns that wilderness hikers can be in grave danger if they happen upon one of these illegal grow sites. Pot growers and other squatters are armed and will shoot to protect their activities.

The growers use poisons to protect their plants which in turn kill wildlife.    One small mammal, the fisher is an endangered species at risk from these toxic chemicals.

These illicit growers are using a banned pesticide carbofuran, which is so potent that one eight of a teaspoon will kill a 300 pound bear. Forest rangers are finding the poison strewn around the forest floor in Vitamin Water bottles.

These operations have also had the effect of eradicating the salmon population by diverting of billions of gallons of water a year out of California streams. The drought returns , but Californians will blame it on something other than a skunky plant that produces no food.

During California’s worst wildfire season ever surely that water would have been useful to the firefighters.

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There’s a strong possibility that some of California’s wildfires are started by these marijuana growers.  If they are smoking cigarettes or marijuana, or even starting a fire to cook food, their actions could cause of an out of control wildfire.   Authorities believe that marijuana growers started the Soberanes fire, largest fire of 2016,  at a campsite.  Common sense tells us it is a risk inherent in this kind of activity.

So why did California Legalize  Marijuana?

And, as to energy usage, California is about to legalize recreational marijuana, and greedy entrepreneurs are converting old warehouse space into indoor grows. These indoor marijuana facilities are known to use a tremendous amount of electricity to power the grow lights. See this article in the Guardian: Pot is Power Hungry.

In a society that prides itself on ‘going green,’ we must think carefully about the negative impacts of commercializing the plant that causes more environmental damage than any other.   States like Massachusetts, Vermont and New Jersey should consider these environmental hazards. It is not too late to reverse the damage.

Governor Brown’s Limited Environmental Advocacy Explained

While Gov. Brown did not criticize marijuana for environmental damage, he was clear about the brain damage. Sean Parker donated big to his re-election campaign, and his mind changed.

Governor Jerry Brown poses as an environmentalist on the national stage while enabling his own state’s environmental destruction. Money and pro-pot journalists kept Californians in the dark about the environmental disaster of marijuana, but the governor knew the truth.   Governor Brown could have spoken out against Prop 64, but he honored a favor from his reelection in  2014.

Governor Brown spoke eloquently against marijuana on Meet the Press, on March 2, 2014.  Four days later, Sean Parker and his wife donated $81,600 to Brown’s re-election campaign.  The governor immediately abandoned a safety bill which would have limited the THC allowed in drivers to 2 ng.

Parker donated $9 million to the cause of California’s legalization campaign of 2016, even more than George Soros’ $4 million.  The campaign was full of “dark money” hidden in secret groups, but included at least $12 million of marijuana industry donors.   While Governor Brown didn’t come out for or against Prop 64, he could have used his environmental conscience  to advocate “No.”

(Marijuana was involved crashes that killed in least 3,000 people in California over last 15 years.)   Now California will legalize without a  suitable measure of driving impairment.

Butane Hash Oil Fires Don’t End with Legalized Marijuana

Butane Hash Oil  Labs are a Byproduct of Marijuana Commercialization

On the first day pot was 100% legal in California, three men in Humboldt County celebrated their marijuana freedom by extracting butane hash oil (BHO) from marijuana.  Their actions sparked a fire.  Helicopters airlifted the injured men to UC Davis Hospital because their burns were so extensive.   It is rumored that two of the men died.

Car fire in Arcata, on November 2, 2016. There have been 5 BHO fires in the same county, Humboldt, since the vote to legalize on November 8

Wasn’t legalization going to solve these problems?  No, because “wax,” “shatter,” “budder” — the products made from BHO and sold in dispensaries — are more expensive than homemade stuff.

On November 2, seven days before pot became legal, a BHO fire exploded a car in Arcata, CA.  A similar fire on January 14, 2017, totaled a home near Arcata in Humboldt County, injuring two people. It was the fourth BHO lab discovered in Humboldt County  since legalization.   (The photo above is from a car fire in Arcata on November 2, 2016.)   

Overhead Video of Last Night’s Fire Before Fire Crews Arrive on Scene

BHO or butane hash oil, which Californians call “honey oil” is a highly potent extract of the marijuana plant. Continue reading

Calaveras County Fights Back Against Big WEEDs

Calaveras County made national news this week because its famed, 2,000 year old tree, which had been a tourist attraction since 1880, fell down.  Fortunately, Calaveras County also took action this week to keep out an invasive tree, the giant cannabis plants that grow like weeds.  Tourists won’t be going there for marijuana, and fortunately, many giant sequoias are still standing.  (Photos from the Calaveras Big Trees Association webpage)

Citizens Qualify an Initiative to Ban Marijuana Cultivation

Calaveras County will see California’s first ever citizen-initiated ordinance banning commercial marijuana activities decided soon by its Board of Supervisors or in a spring special election.   It’s one of the first big push-backs against Big Marijuana since the November 8 election in which the state legalized pot.

County Clerk and Registrar of Voters Rebecca Turner today certified the petition sections filed by proponents of the initiative to ban commercial marijuana cultivation included more than enough valid signatures to qualify it for a special election.  Sampling 500 of the more than 5,200 signatures submitted, the Elections Department found a validity rate of 87% which, applied to the total, would produce approximately 4,532 valid signatures, where the number needed for certification was only 3,143.

“We’re delighted with the results, but not surprised,” said Bill McManus, Chairman of The Committee to Ban Commercial Cultivation. “The high percentage of invalid signatures from the Measure D signature drive was not surprising due to their use of paid professional signature gatherers.  By contrast, our all-volunteer team was much more careful and deliberate in their efforts.”  “Nevertheless, we overshot the target by a wide margin,” he went on, “to send a strong message to our Board of Supervisors as to the will of the people in Calaveras County.”  Committee member David Tunno added, “We only took about half the amount of time available to gather signatures, or the number would have been much greater.”

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Photo from Citizens Against the Legalization of Marijuana

“Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM) congratulates The Committee to Ban Commercial Marijuana in Calaveras County for their successful initiative drive, and especially for being the first such success citizens’ campaign in the state of California.  As far as we know, they are also the first in the U.S.  We encourage the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors to enact their ordinance at the earliest possible date.”  Said Carla Lowe, Founder, Co-chair, Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana, a statewide organization.

The Elections Department also notified the proponents that it will request a hearing on the matter before the Board of Supervisors at its regularly scheduled January 24 meeting.  At this writing, it is unknown whether it will be placed on the agenda for that meeting, but when it is, the Board will have the options of adopting the ordinance, directing the Elections Department to schedule it for a special election, or doing nothing, triggering a requirement for the Department to schedule the ordinance for a special election in the spring.

Proponents of the initiative and authors of the proposed ordinance were Bill McManus of the Calaveras Project and David Tunno, former County Planning Commissioner.  The ordinance bans all commercial marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, processing and delivery within unincorporated Calaveras County, as well as dispensaries, while providing an exception for qualified medical patients under specified conditions.  The complete ordinance and additional information is available on their website, ban commercial cultivation.  

This action will protect Calaveras County against the problems that plague Humboldt County and the Lost Coast.   For more information, contact:

Calaveras County,     Bill McManus      209 768 8549
So. California, Scott Chipman    619 990 7480                            
scott@chipman.info                                                                                                            No. California,  Carla Lowe       916 708 4111   carladlowe@aol.com

 

A View Into Legalized Marijuana 20 Years from Now

Drug Policy Alliance, NORML and Marijuana Policy Project are optimistic. They’re huffing and puffing now, having won  7 out of 8 states with marijuana ballots in the November election. They also smirk knowing that President-elect Trump supports states’ rights for marijuana.  In 20 or 30 years, they’ll have freedom and no one else really matters.  Pot lobbyists don’t explain the real picture. What if the whole country ends up just like Humboldt County?

Photo Credit: Weed bust photo comes from the sheriff’s department, originally published by Lost Coast Outpost.

 

Humboldt County Leads the Way

The oldest, strongest marijuana culture in the USA is not in Colorado, but in Humboldt County,  California.  Humboldt, Mendocino County and Trinity County also form this region called the Emerald Triangle.   When Sabrina Rubin Erdely set out to write about rape culture for High Times Magazine, she missed the boat by not going to Humboldt County.  The story about a gang rape on campus which turned out to be false, but REVEAL reported about the rapes and sexual abuse in the Emerald Triangle.   What an irony that a magazine promoting marijuana legalization for years fails to notice that rape is taking place in its community!  There’s politically-motivated denial and deflection, but heavy weed smokers have lots of delusions.

There were 2,000 domestic violence calls in 2015, an increase of 80% over the previous four years.*  A routine domestic violence call in December led to a huge bust for guns and weed.  Marijuana gained a foothold in Humboldt nearly 50  years ago, and it seems guns and weed are a way of life since that time.

Humboldt County leads the way in environmental destruction, too. The area used to be dominated by the logging and fishing industries.   Now the marijuana growers have polluted the streams and dried up many river beds.

See the video about the ecological damage from illicit marijuana grows

Environmental Damage

Environmentalists convinced politicians that the logging industry must stop cutting down the redwoods.  So the marijuana growers found an opening and they’re clearing out the trees!  Aerial views show the redwood forests pockmarked by marijuana grows.  It doesn’t seem that High Times and Alternet have caught on to the irony that marijuana green is not environmentally green.

In May of 2008, approximately 1000 of gallons of red diesel overflowed from an indoor marijuana grow’s fuel room into a creek.  The marijuana grower had left a valve open when pouring a larger diesel tank into a smaller one.  The fuel had spread so far down the rugged stream bed when a neighbor smelled the pungent odor and investigated.  He found “20 to 30 pools of red diesel” far below the spill.  The environmental cleanup was a massive operation, from damage which rivals the impact of an oil spill in the ocean.

Marijuana and Fire Damages

Fires are frequent throughout California, and marijuana sometimes causes these fires, including hash oil (BHO) explosions.  The massive Soberanes fire this summer uncovered several illegal marijuana sites.  Marijuana growers may have started the fire.

Humboldt County has had at least three BHO fires from marijuana labs since California legalized pot two months ago.   A home exploded on November 9 in Rio Dell, the first day after the election. The Redheaded Blackbelt noticed “how ironic that on the first day that it is legal to smoke recreational marijuana… that one of the side effects of marijuana prohibition, a black market BHO lab, exploded.”  The flames burned 90 percent of the bodies of two victims who were airlifted to Davis.   There are rumors that one or both men have died.

The true irony is that when recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado, these home explosions grew more frequent, rather than less. In one week of April 2014, there were four BHO explosions.   BHO fires didn’t occur in California before 2010, so liberalizing pot laws and expanding marijuana access created a new problem.  (In 2010, pot was decriminalized in California.)

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The man who started a fire in McKinleyville on December 26 fled the scene. It’s thought to be a hash oil lab fire. Photo above and on top by Marc Davis, published on the Redheaded Blackbelt.

Murders, Suicides and Missing People

If a tv news magazine were to expose the murder, rape and sex trafficking in Humboldt, reporters may be at risk.  An investigative journalism report released in September revealed that some trimmigrants and girls end up getting abused or raped.  The marijuana apologists mislead by insisting that murders and rapes happen because prohibition forces growers into hiding.

There were at least 22 murders in Humboldt County in 2016.   Only 134,000 people live in the county.  (Often it’s difficult to distinguish murder from suicide, which occurs at a rate twice the national norm.)  Humboldt reported 352 missing people in 2015, more per capita than any other county in the state.

Missing persons include trimmigrants, those who come to the region only in the Fall to work on marijuana farms.  Growers also are known to murder these migrant workers, but sometimes the trimmers turn on their growers. There’s even an area of Humboldt called “Murder Mountain.”  The site is where a notorious couple who carried out cult-like murders in the 1980s, but the tradition seems to continue today.

Nonetheless, Humboldt County has wonderful examples of love and community spirit.   Recently, residents of Eureka came out in the heavy rain to honorJennika Suazo, a teen girl who died suspiciously.

marijuanagrowap-photo

An AP photo shows how marijuana growers have bulldozed trees in northern California to make room for pot grows. The environmental damage is worse than from the timber industry.

Domestic Violence, DUIs and Humboldt’s Other Problems

Humboldt County district attorney Maggie Fleming sat down for an interview with Paul Mann of the Mad River Union recently. (The entire article is in Lost Coast Outpost.)   “We see DUIs all day long in this community …. There are people who are drinking or using prescription meds or smoking marijuana or using methamphetamine or heroin and driving at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Some of our fatalities are in the middle of the day,” Fleming explained.

She listed multiple factors powering Humboldt crime: high rates of driving while intoxicated; the county’s nightmarish marijuana, drug and alcohol culture; the prevalence of domestic violence and the deep-rooted poverty that inflicts childhood trauma and impairs children’s health, often with lifelong afflictions, including criminal behavior.  She definitely sees the crime is a result of the drug culture. Both those  with substance abuse problems and those selling drugs for financial gain instigate the crime.

“I see firsthand how marijuana is a social and environmental disaster,” a policeman from the Emerald Triangle wrote to PopPot.org. “Youth access, abuse, transient population moving in to grow or trim, associated criminal behavior all rising.”

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The homeless population in Humboldt creates a dilemma. Here’s what was left when several squatters were forced out of a Eureka home on Oct. 31, 2016.

 

“Where there is pot …there are other drugs…..and all the behavior associated with lives less enabled,” he said.  “The money isn’t worth the social cost to our world.”

–Emerald Triangle policeman

It’s clear that having a marijuana culture adds to the use of other drugs. Those laid back from smoking too much dope will try amphetamines to get them back up again.  It also leads to rampant alcohol abuse, since booze just enhances the effect of the drugs.  People think the homelessness problem in Humboldt is caused by mental illness, but one social worker in the area disagrees.  He is certain that rampant drug/alcohol abuse precipitates the problem. Politicians in both parties remain clueless of how drug use creates mental health problems. Their ignorance will continue as long as it’s politically incorrect to blame pot for anything.

Seven hundred homeless children without parents or guardians in nearby Mendocino County, also part of California’s “Emerald Triangle” growing region. These street kids sometimes work on the pot farms, but basically no one has ever loved them enough to care for them.  They’re likely to become drug users too, and the cycle of multi-generation drug use will continue.

Pueblo is a Warning to Other Places

Four years after Colorado legalized marijuana, the small city of Pueblo is another example of how pot commercialization can destroy life for the residents. “I can no longer allow my 13-year-old to walk the dog, one mother said. There was recently a murder 3 blocks from our house.”  Pueblo failed to pass two referendums which would have closed dispensaries and growing sites in the city and county.  Some people think of marijuana as an economic panacea for lost jobs in the steel industry.  However,  it has created a huge increase in the homeless population. Pueblo doctors recently made videos showing the damage marijuana is doing to the health care in the community.

Buyers in Pueblo West, Colo., line up on Jan. 1, 2014 to legally buy marijuana after it was approved for recreational use. (Source: AP Photo/John Wark)
Buyers in Pueblo West, Co line up on Jan. 1, 2014 to legally buy marijuana when the state’s first pot shops opened. (Source: AP Photo/John Wark).  The Press prefers to emphasize that so much money can be made, rather than the destruction with legal pot. It hasn’t turned out as orderly as this photo.

International cartels have moved into Pueblo and bought up property for their marijuana grows.  The black market is booming.   Russians, Cubans, Argentinians and Cambodians have come to town. Pueblo, Boulder and Denver lead the state in percentage of high school students using pot, but in Pueblo there are more problems. Fully 12% of high school seniors have also used heroin.

Is marijuana growing also going to replace tobacco growing  in Kentucky and Tennessee?  Will it be a substitute for the coal mines that shut down in West Virginia and Pennsylvania?  When policy is driven by knee-jerk reactions without careful planning, chaos follows.

At this time, the United States has more than half of the world’s illicit drug users.  Six percent of America’s high school seniors are daily marijuana users.  It appears that the legacy of drug use is going to continue creating this problem for America’s children.  Humboldt County is the future of our country if we continue to believe marijuana use is perfectly harmless and normal.

* This statistic and much of the information on sexual abuse, missing persons, domestic violence, rape and abuse of trimmigants comes from the massive report by Shoshana Walter, published in Reveal, The Center for Investigative Reporting on September 8, 2016.