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Marijuana: Not so green after all

Marijuana May Not be so Green
Marijuana May Not be so Green
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The push to legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes has created an unexpected and unprecedented environmental issue. If legislators are not proactive, we could end up with severe ecological damage in areas where marijuana is currently harvested in the U.S.

It is clear that multiple sides of the argument need to be reviewed before our lawmakers continue their efforts to legalize its use. Prevention needs to be a major focal point, as well as full disclosure of the impact legalization across the board would have on our citizenry. Steps should be taken to prevent this negative trend from causing major devastation in the future.

How Marijuana Harms the Environment

Although many areas throughout the United States, such as Georgia and New York, have not yet given in to public and political pressure to legalize medicinal marijuana, it is available in 20 states. These legislative changes have created a large public demand for medical marijuana, and the black market variety is also becoming increasingly popular. It is understandable that this would lead to a higher amount of cannabis production, but conflicting federal and state laws have ecologists extremely concerned.

The reality is that marijuana farming is not properly regulated, and this has caused issues with irrigation, topsoil damage and dwindling water sources from creeks and streams. In fact, ecologists have discovered that a single marijuana farm utilizes several thousands of gallons of water on a daily basis (causing nearby small bodies of water to become practically non-existent!). In other words, regulation is desperately needed for the marijuana growing industry, and failure to act quickly could lead to the complete annihilation of many species that depend on these waterways to survive.

The Legalization of Pot Marches Onward

Several states are currently considering legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, including Georgia. The New York Times recently published an editorial calling on the government to repeal the nationwide federal ban, and it does seem likely that this will happen at some point in the not too distant future.

It would be extremely dangerous for the delicate ecosystems of Georgia and other states to keep moving toward legalization without taking the time to implement the necessary regulations. Unfortunately, the type of parameters that are sorely needed would typically come from the federal level. Therefore, the battle between making marijuana legal and protecting the environment will probably have to become much more intense before positive steps are taken.

Legal Ramifications of Marijuana Legalization

It is no longer contested that marijuana and its derivatives can serve a useful purpose for people who suffer from certain medical conditions. This fact is the main catalyst behind the rapid growth of pot-friendly laws at the state level, but it is critical for lawmakers and citizens to pay close attention to the problems that legalization are causing. For example, marijuana usage has been proven to slow a driver’s response time, which is why having even residuals show up in your bloodstream can find you convicted of a DUI.

Areas which do not currently have legal marijuana such as Glen Cove, New York, still end up dealing with many negligent personal injury cases caused by car accidents involving at least one DUI-impaired driver. There is much attention given to drinking and driving, and very little to smoking pot and getting behind the wheel (whether there’s paraphernalia in your car or not). Situations like this should make us much more concerned about how much more commonplace marijuana DUIs will become if the federal ban is lifted and it becomes legal for recreational usage nationwide.

Therefore, it is important for advocates on both sides of this hotbed issue to carefully analyze the negative impact that marijuana cultivation is currently having on our Eco-system. Not to mention the crisis that legalization is causing on our roadways, where legally impaired drivers are putting our citizens at severe risk of injury or loss of life.

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