Although recreational marijuana has recently been legalized in the state of California, the golden state is getting worse in terms of environmental damage from illicit marijuana operations. In Lassen National Forest, just north of Deer Creek, law enforcement agents discovered the largest illegal marijuana grows ever in the forest, spread across nearly 300 acres. At the site, law enforcements found sleeping bags, empty pesticide packets, and other debris. Also in Lassen, the agency had to use helicopters to clean up the trash which has taken more than three months to do. Included with the debris was over 18 miles of drip irrigation line.
The irrigation pipes were removing water from streams that feed into nearby Deer Creek. Deer Creek flows into the Sacramento River. Thus, drying up small streams like this that’s feeding into the system causes major concerns for drought. The illegal growers who stationed at the site were also using copious amounts of fertilizers, pesticides and poisons like bromethalin—a neurotoxic rodenticide. According to the law enforcement agents, the illegal growers were using the rodenticide as bait for animals to prevent them from eating or damaging the plant.
With the legalization of recreational marijuana, some law enforcement agencies fear the problem of environmental damage will only get worse—especially on National Forest land.