Don't bogart that spotted owl

Are Northern California pot farmers despoiling Mother Earth?

Published August 8, 2007 4:43PM (EDT)

Wipe that loopy, contented, tetrahydracannibol-induced grin off your face. Every time you take a toke, the Stockton Record informs us (by way of Treehugger), you are indirectly assisting in the destruction of California's natural environment.

Quoting mostly from sources in the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, reporter Alex Breiter describes modern Northern California marijuana cultivation as a nightmare of unregulated agribusiness devastation. And as if stinking pit toilets and abandoned irrigation tubes aren't bad enough, how about this horror? Pesticides aimed at keeping rodents from chewing on pot plants are killing off a "primary food source" for the endangered spotted owl.

Stuff that in your bong and smoke it. Who's giggling now? As anti-pot propaganda goes, it's hard to imagine a more fiendish scheme to spread discomfort and dismay through the dope-smoking community. "Reefer Madness" pales in comparison. What's next? Marijuana smoke contributes to global warming?

I should note, however, that I am unaware of any field studies by EPA scientists quantifying a decline in spotted-owl numbers attributable to the downstream impact of pesticides employed in marijuana cultivation. Maybe I'm just paranoid, and suspicious of The Man, but I'd like to see a little more data.

In any case, the easy solution, as noted by San Francisco's Bruce Mirken, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, is to legalize pot, and bring cultivation into the mainstream.

Of course, then the real agribusinesses would cut in on the action, genetically modify the species, and exacerbate our peak oil mess by applying megatons of petroleum-based fertilizers to already nutrient-deficient farmland.

Somewhere, I think I hear a spotted owl laughing.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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