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Alarming Rates of Toxins Found in California’s Illegal Pot Grows

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The use of chemicals in illegal marijuana grows is rampant in states like California. It’s evident in the toxins left behind by the illegal fertilizers, pesticides, and butane. One investigation uncovered thousands of used butane cans used to process concentrated marijuana dumped in the forest of Humboldt County, California.

California cannabis is moving to a legal market and as the Golden State moves to license growers officials also plan on regulating the use of chemicals. But rules can only be enforced against those who cultivate pot legally.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Deputy Chief Mike Cenci explained to Reuters that it’s going to be an uphill battle to get illegal grows to follow the new rules. Meanwhile, Keith Groves, a supervisor of Trinity County in Northern California tells them “We’ve got 4,000 illegal grows in our county…I’ll be happy if we can get 500 of them to become licensed.”

Ecologist Mourad Gabriel, works with the Forest Service at both the local and federal levels. His guess is that California’s forests hold 41 times more solid fertilizers and 80 times more liquid pesticides than Forest Service investigators found in 2013.

According to unpublished data seen by Reuters, Gabriel, ‘who has visited more than 100 sites in California and is widely considered the top expert on toxics at marijuana farms, calculated that federal land in California contains 731,000 pounds of solid fertilizer, 491,000 ounces of concentrated liquid fertilizer and 200,000 ounces of toxic pesticides.’

Using chemicals in national forests is illegal and have negative effects such as:

  • killing species
  • algae blooms
  • bacteria problems

The estimated costs associated with such damages is upwards of $100,000 to clean up – and it’s the taxpayers that would foot the $100 million dollar bill.

Human exposure to such toxins can result in skin rashes and respiratory problems. The chemicals are so bad that five officials have already been sent to the hospital for exposure to the toxins.

Alaska, Oregon, and Washington are also under fire from federal prosecutors regarding illegal pot grows. “We’re getting contamination over and over again at those locations,” said Gabriel, as toxins move from unsafe containers into the soil and water.

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