Report: Marijuana plots polluting US forests

The Associated Press reports that illicit marijuana plots are befouling US national forests and parks with toxic chemicals.

AP Photo/California Department of Fish and Game
In this photo provided by the California Department of Fish and Game, two five-gallon backpack units used to spray pesticides directly on the buds of marijuana plants to keep insects away are shown July 28 at Longmeadow Creek in Tulare County near Johnsondale, in southern California.

The Associated Press reports that illicit marijuana plots are befouling US national forests and parks with toxic chemicals.

Following post-9/11 border-security measures, a number of Mexican drug cartels moved their grow sites inside the United States. Federally managed land offered the best sites for remote, anonymous plots. According to the AP story, the biggest sites are in the Cascade Range, which extends from British Columbia to Northern California, and in federal lands in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia:

Weed and bug sprays, some long banned in the US, have been smuggled to the marijuana farms. Plant growth hormones have been dumped into streams, and the water has then been diverted for miles in PVC pipes.

Rat poison has been sprinkled over the landscape to keep animals away from tender plants. And many sites are strewn with the carcasses of deer and bears poached by workers during the five-month growing season that is now ending.

"What's going on on public lands is a crisis at every level," said Forest Service agent Ron Pugh. "These are America's most precious resources, and they are being devastated by an unprecedented commercial enterprise conducted by armed foreign nationals. It is a huge mess."

The story quotes Agent Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Game, who says that 1.5 pounds of toxic fertilizers and pesticides is used for every 11.5 plants. More than more than 2.2 million plants had been uprooted in California so far.

"I've seen the pesticide residue on the plants," Foy said. "You ain't just smoking pot, bud. You're smoking some heavy-duty pesticides from Mexico."

The question I have is this: If border-security measures have been that successful in keeping Mexican cannabis from entering the country, why can't they block millions of gallons of illegal poisonous chemicals? Which of these two substances do you think would be of more use to an aspiring terrorist?

 Related: New target in Colombia’s drug war: ecofriendly US users

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.