The current drought in California, one of the most severe on record, could have been exacerbated by marijuana cultivation, scientists say.
Some marijuana farms are sucking more water from the ground than can be replaced, threatening the state’s water entire supply, according to a study published in the Public Library of Science journal.
The amount of water being used to cultivate marijuana was said to be “unsustainable” in the report.
Smaller streams were found to be completely “dewatered” by the demands of marijuana farming, while larger streams experienced substantial “flow diversions and increased temperatures”.
In some areas the water use was so extensive, fish and other aquatic wildlife were threatened.
The study warned: “Continued diversions at a rate necessary to support the current scale of marijuana cultivation in northern California could be catastrophic for aquatic species.”
Marijuana is illegal to use recreationally in California, but the cultivation of marijuana in California has increased rapidly since 1996, when the use and growth of medical marijuana was legalised.
Where cannabis is and isn't legal
Where cannabis is and isn't legal
Having been reclassified in 2009 from a Class C to a Class B drug, cannabis is now the most used illegal drug within the United Kingdom. The UK is also, however, the only country where Sativex – a prescribed drug that helps to combat muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis and contains some ingredients that are also found in cannabis - is licensed as a treatment
2/12 North Korea
Although many people believe the consumption of cannabis in North Korea to be legal, the official law regarding the drug has never been made entirely clear whilst under Kim Jong Un’s regime. However, it is said that the North Korean leader himself has openly said that he does not consider cannabis to be a drug and his regime doesn’t take any issue with the consumption or sale of the drug
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In the Netherlands smoking cannabis is legal, given that it is smoked within the designated ‘smoking areas’ and you don’t possess more than 5 grams for personal use. It is also legal to sell the substance, but only in specified coffee shops
Although in some states of America cannabis has now been legalised, prior to the legalisation, police in the U.S. could make a marijuana-related arrest every 42 seconds, according to US News and World Report. The country also used to spend around $3.6 billion a year enforcing marijuana law, the American Civil Liberties Union notes
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Despite cannabis being officially illegal in Spain, the European hotspot has recently started to be branded, ‘the new Amsterdam’. This is because across Spain there are over 700 ‘Cannabis Clubs’ – these are considered legal venues to consume cannabis in because the consumption of the drug is in private, and not in public. These figures have risen dramatically in the last three years – in 2010 there were just 40 Cannabis Clubs in the whole of Spain. Recent figures also show that in Catalonia alone there are 165,000 registered members of cannabis clubs – this amounts to over 5 million euros (£4 million) in revenue each month
In December 2013, the House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill legalizing and regulating the production and sale of the drug. But the president has since postponed the legalization of cannabis until to 2015 and when it is made legal, it will be the authorities who will grow the cannabis that can be sold legally. Buyers must be 18 or older, residents of Uruguay, and must register with the authorities
Despite the fact that laws prohibiting the sale and misuse of cannabis exist and is considered a habit only entertained by lower-income groups, it is very rarely enforced. The occasional use of cannabis in community gatherings is broadly tolerated as a centuries old custom. The open use of cannabis by Sufis and Hindus as a means to induce euphoria has never been challenged by the state. Further, large tracts of cannabis grow unchecked in the wild
In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the use of all drugs, and started treating drug users as sick people, instead of criminals. However, you can still be arrested or assigned mandatory rehab if you are caught several times in possession of drugs
9/12 Puerto Rico
Although the use of cannabis is currently illegal, it is said that Puerto Rico are in the process of decriminalising it
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The US state became the first in the country to legalise marijuana in January 2014. In February 2015, President Obama recently said he expects to see more states "looking into" legalisation. However, it is illegally to grow more than six cannabis plants and to possess more than 28 grams of the drug
Oaksterdam in Oakland, California, is the world's only university dedicated to the study and cultivation of cannabis. If you are court in California with anything up to an ounce of cannabis, you will be fine $100, but you will not get a criminal record, nor will you have to appear in court
Cannabis is grown in the wild and has been used to treat conditions such as gout and malaria. But, officially the substance is illegal to consume, possess and sell
Marijuana is considered particularly water intensive compared to other crops. Wine grapes, for example, require roughly half as much water as marijuana plants.
California consistently outranks all other states for the number of marijuana plants that are eradicated by law enforcement.
The main areas of cultivation are on private property, located in the northwest of the state, primarily because it is “remote, forested, and sparsely populated”.
Therefore, it is often difficult for authorities and scientists to accurately gauge the extent and the impact of the farming.
The state authorities do not regulate marijuana farms and it had been seen as unrealistic to expect that growers would register for permits to divert water.
But that is now changing following concern over the effect on the environment.
The California Water Resources Control Board is developing a permit that growers in 10 northern counties will be required to obtain.
And water diversion permit checks are being stepped up, with fines starting at $8,000 for each transgression.Reuse content