Pot Farms Harm Salmon Populations

California plantations sap water, spill harmful chemicals

Marijuana farms could be harming California salmon populations. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Fishermen and biologists along California's North Coast agree that regional marijuana farms are severely harming local salmon populations, according to an NPR report.

Scott Bauer, a fisheries biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, says that in the summer growers use up to six gallons of water per day per plant—for as many as 30,000 plants.

Additionally, pot farms spill pesticides, fertilizers, and other substances into local rivers and streams. Debris can block salmon migration routes, and fertilizers often cause floating carpets of algae to grow. When the algae decays, it leeches oxygen from the water, suffocating fish in the process.

However, regional pot advocates say marijuana's prohibition makes them easy scapegoats.

"The truth is, if you flush a toilet in the hills, you're a part of the problem," says Kristin Nevedal, a founding chairperson of the Emerald Growers Association. Marijuana proponents also cite California's record-low precipitation in 2013 as part of the problem.

If the North Coast's marijuana debacle sounds like a buzzkill, consider taking a trip to Telluride, Colorado's new pot paradise.

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