Think pot growers are kind, environmentally-minded hippies? Not in the so-called Emerald Triangle, a weed-farming region of California where illegal growers are spewing pollution, poisoning wildlife, and scaring scientists away from probing the environmental effects of pot-growing, Mother Jones reports. One wildlife ecologist received threats against his family, and researchers in the field have been shot at with high-caliber rifles. "At my university, there is nobody who will even go near" the issue, said a sociologist at Humboldt State University. Cops have conducted raids, but only bust the undocumented farm workers who work there.
The Emerald Triangle, a tri-county area in the Central Valley, was once hippie heaven. But when California legalized pot for medicinal use in 1996, out-of-work loggers went into pot farming and made millions. Prices dropped as domestic supply grew, so the farms expanded—as did the environmental impact of pesticides and generators, analysts say. Not only that, weed production sucked up massive amounts of water in a drought-plagued region and devastated local salmon populations. Solutions? One environmentalist suggests fully legalizing pot so it can be regulated and grown where it's cheapest: "It is not the growers who are a disease. They are just a symptom. The real disease is the failed drug war." Click for the full article, or see an East Bay Express report on how California has banned a rat poison used on "trespass pot grows." (Read more marijuana stories.)