The battle over water usage in California has traditionally been between the Delta Smelt and Central Valley farmers, who grow more than 230 varieties of food crops. But in the “Emerald Triangle” of Northern California, there’s a new battle brewing: Between endangered Salmon… and marijuana growers.
Although the marijuana business has helped revive the local economy, residents may now be feeling the effects of living alongside growers. And, as growers face an ongoing, severe drought, local law enforcement officers expect the fight over natural resources to intensify.
“I never want to see crime increase, but I have a feeling it will, because of the commodities that are up here,” said Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey.
“When we get to the end of the grow season, which is August and September, the need for enhanced water availability is gonna be there, and I don’t think the water’s going to be there, so you’re going to see people, I believe, having some conflict over water rights.”
Given that indoor marijuana-grow operations use large amounts of energy, pot proponents had hoped that legalization and the ability to grow weed in the open would provide them with an environmentally-friendly atmosphere. Not so much.
It turns out that marijuana operations require a tremendous amount of water – and many growers don’t bother with getting a permit or following those troublesome California environmental regulations.
“If this activity continues on the trajectory it’s on, we’re looking at potentially streams going dry, streams that harbor endangered fish species like salmon, steelhead,” said Scott Bauer of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“We get (those) calls daily. People are upset. Somebody has dried up a stream, somebody is building a road across sensitive fish and wildlife habitat,” Bauer said. “And we do our best with the personnel we have to respond to those calls.”
Needless to say, this presents a tough – shall we call it existential? – dilemma for Cali’s lefties: Force pot providers to follow your environmental regulations or tell the environmentalists that you’ve found “greener” friends to hang out with.
Ah, life in the Golden State. For your amusement (or horror), here’s a video of some genius smoking pot through a salmon: