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The New Reefer Madness: Drug War Crusaders Blame Pot Growers for Dead Animals -- But the Drug War's to Blame

Law enforcement is now pointing to the environmental harms caused by illegal pot farms to justify the ongoing Drug War. But they've got it backwards.

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And because cannabis is a highly productive plant, it wouldn't take up that much farmland. According to a Rand study, just 10,000 acres of intensively farmed land could grow all the dope Americans consume each year. California's estimated share would total only 1,600 acres. By comparison, the state currently dedicates about 150,000 acres to pistachio growing each year.

The relaxation of pot prohibition has already caused price drops in California, Colorado, and Washington, but this half-solution has caused existing farmers to plant more to make up for lost profits. It's going to take a true market crash from national legalization and regulation to halt wildland growing forever. "I think we'd see a decrease slowly in environmental harms and then it would be minimal," Silvaggio said. "Long-term, we'd see a recovery in the ecosystem."

Silvaggio also argued that the news media needs to start sharing the stories of growers who farm sustainably in Humboldt and how they do it. "There's a total disregard for interviewing and talking with communities that are growing ecologically sensitive weed.

"Prohibition has failed and it needs to end," he continued. "If we didn't have prohibition, we would see this problem go away."


David Downs is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Wired, Rolling Stone, the Onion, and the New York Times. He writes the syndicated weekly column "Legalization Nation" and edits pot blog Smell the Truth on SFGate.com.

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