(Originally published for Mugglehead on Feb 11th, 2021)
Activists working in California’s public wilderness to remove illicit cannabis grows — hundreds of which use carbofuran, a pesticide banned in the United States for its high toxicity — have seen the number of sites increase for the first time in 15 years.
As the pandemic constrained already struggling enforcement efforts, illicit operators have seized on the opportunity to ramp up cultivation and sales to the profitable, multistate black market. And they’re not the mix of hippies and rednecks that popularized growing weed in Californian forests. Experts estimate that more than 95 per cent of the sites are run by Mexican cartels that care little about the environmental fallout of their methods.
The toxic carbofuran they use kills wildlife, taints waterways, spreads into the air as pressurized cylinders explode during wildfires, and travels in or on weed plants to consumers on the other side of the country.
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