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The Weather Channel Has Crazy Theories About Marijuana

The cable network says that reckless practices by marijuana farmers on the North Coast are hurting the regional ecology.
 
 
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Cable television's Weather Channel has joined the polarizing debate over marijuana on its website on this week, claiming that growing cannabis is a contributor to California's current drought.

"Marijuana growing is a budding business in America as laws are relaxed on pot use in several states, but as California's drought continues to worsen, these thirsty plants, whether grown lawfully or illegally, aren't helping the problem," says writer Sean Breslin.

Breslin claims that along California's North Coast, thousands of marijuana plants require six gallons of water apiece every day, and it's stressing the local water source.

And, according to Breslin, "as an already extensive drought likely gets even more dire this summer, marijuana farms are going to guzzle up a lot of the state's water if dry, sunny conditions persist."

Breslin also cites authorities, who say some who grow marijuana without following the rules and regulation have been caught stealing water from other farmers.

Breslin also cites claims by the fishing industry, which says that pesticides, fertilizers, and sediments from marijuana farms are leaking into waterways where they can affect salmon and other fish. In Humboldt County, fish farmers point out pot farmers for disrupting the local ecosystem and endangering the fish population.

However, readers of the Weather Channel's Internet site Weather.com, aren't buying Breslin's arguments.

One reader retorts:

You really want to point the finger at cannabis for contributing to CA drought problems when practically every living green thing in the entire southern half of the state is landscaped in there and needs to be watered?!? Last I checked, all that grass and all those superficial shrubs people water daily with sprinklers serve no functional purpose whatsoever.

Another joins the fray:

Lettuce: Another Contributor to California's Drought
Tomatoes: : Another Contributor to California's Drought
Celery: Another Contributor to California's Drought
Lawns: : Another Contributor to California's Drought

Other readers say that the regions's logging industry and the drought are the primary culprits wrecking the regional ecology.

However, most commenters on Breslin's article find the information about how much water cannabis requires to grow to be dubious. Six gallons a day per plant is far off, they claim. Breslin's doesn't cite his source other than to link to an NPR article about the rivalry between the fisheries and marijuana farms. The information source is Scott Bauer, a fisheries biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Not cited in Breslin's article is the opposing viewpoint from North Coast marijuana growers in the NPR article he heavily borrows from. They believe that they're undeservedly taking a lot of criticism for their water usage.

Kristin Nevedal, a founding chairperson with the Emerald Growers Association told NPR: "It's just so easy to point a finger at cannabis growers because it's a federally prohibited substance." she says. "The truth is, if you flush a toilet in the hills, you're a part of the problem."

The Weather Channel isn't alone in criticizing marijuana growers in California. The Atlantic has called the state's new pot growers "not at all Earth friendly" in a recent article. 

Cliff Weathers is a senior editor at AlterNet, covering environmental and consumer issues. He is a former deputy editor at Consumer Reports. His work has also appeared in Salon, Car and Driver, Playboy, Raw Story and Detroit Monthly among other publications. Follow him on Twitter @cliffweathers and on Facebook.

 
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