I have no opinion about marijuana. Never toked, never cared to, and I can’t say I feel strongly about whether anyone else chooses to, especially while cigarettes are legal.

That said, the periodic discoveries of pot farms in national parks and forests is a definite disaster, and one that can be fixed.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on a Big raid in Marin County:

The discovery of 22,740 marijuana plants growing in and around Point Reyes National Seashore last week wasn’t only the biggest pot seizure ever made in Marin County. It was an environmental mess that will take several months and tens of thousands of dollars to clean up.

The crops seized on the steep hillsides overlooking Highway 1 were planted by sophisticated growers who cleared vegetation, terraced land, drew water from streams through miles of irrigation hoses and doused acres of land with hundreds of pounds of fertilizer and pesticides.

This is as bad as if someone planted a cornfield or an apple orchard in the midst of the park. These sorts of incursions are commonplace in developing nations, where park enforcement is inadequate and land ownership is confused. In America, people move into the park because their actions are illegal.

The same problem arises with meth labs. A friend investigating black bear distributions in Kentucky was more worried about being shot by tweakers than by any wild thing.

The problem is twofold. First, that these activities are pushed to the limits of society, and that park enforcement is underfunded. The National Park Service does have specialized units that hunt for pot farms in parks, but that draws away funds from other uses. Rangers who ought to be helping the public enjoy the park are obliged to gather evidence from pot farms and meth labs.

The Friday Find is a look at surprising things in nature that hide right under our nose. There are two things hiding here: the farms themselves, and the problems our national parks face.

Comments

  1. #1 bernarda
    October 2, 2006

    The problem is is that this is an artificial problem. Until WWI, drugs of all sorts were legal and there was no terrible problem except alcohol.

    But, after WWI, the U.S. puritans pushed to have all these things prohibited. Alcohol was finally re-legalized, but not the others. The obvious solution is legalization under controls as with alcohol.

    Sure there will be health problems, but probably less than with alcohol or tobacco. Besides, you free up all the money spent on repression, particularly overloaded prisons, to be spent on health care. What is it? Something like half the U.S. prison population is there on drug convictions.

    In fact, anti-drug laws are not really used for repression of drug-trafficking, but for repression alone. To paraphrase Orwell, the purpose of repression is repression.

  2. #2 stillwaters
    October 2, 2006

    Easy solution = End drug prohibition

    It didn’t work for alcohol, and it isn’t working for drugs. Wake up and smell the marijuana.