Would the legalization of marijuana in the United States be good for the environment?
Do I hear a resounding yes from the peanut gallery? Thought so. Beyond hyperbole and party favors the legalization of marijuana could actually benefit the environment.
Legalizing marijuana would (hopefully) end the practice of growing marijuana deep within national forests. Currently, illegal pot fields mean trampled and destroyed ecosystems, cleared habitat, pesticide and fertilizer runoff, and an abundance of human refuse left at the grow site.
Clearly, legalizing pot would not mean the end of all of these problems, however, the necessity of seeking out undisturbed sections of national forest would no longer be a concern. Also marijuana farmers could focus more of their attention on growing a healthy, dare I say organic, product versus hiding from authorities.
Once marijuana is legal to grow it could be regulated and taxed by the federal government. Regulations on the type of fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals the plants are exposed to means a healthier product and watershed. Growers would also be subject to each state’s agriculture laws. Instead of paying taxes to fight a costly and unproductive war against marijuana, tax revenue on the plants could be earmarked for environmental and educational programs. States in the red like California, where marijuana is currently the largest (untaxed) cash crop, might want to take note.
Finally, one cannot overlook the renewed interest in gardening by college age students which would blossom across the United States. Horticulture classes would be booked and a new kind of “victory garden” would spring to life around the country. In the end, getting a new generation back into the garden, that’s what it’s all about.
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