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Marijuana Legalization Could Help California’s Water Crisis

Marijuana Legalization Could Help California's Water Crisis

Author: Shernide Delva

California is in the middle of their worst drought in 1200 years. Recently, I wrote an article about how marijuana farms are draining the state of its water supply. The growing season for marijuana plants comes during California typically dry summer months. An article in The Rolling Stone pushed for regulating the drug stating their needs to be a crackdown on water usage.

As a side effect, Marijuana Reform is now being viewed as a possible solution for California water drought problem. The legalization of marijuana is now heavily promoted as a way to save California’s water crisis.

Marijuana plants require six gallons of water a day per plant to grow. Often, this large water supply is diverted from rivers, lakes, and streams or even stolen from farmers whose water use is already strictly regulated. The majority of marijuana is produced in an area known as the Emerald Triangle consisting of Humbold, Mendocino, and Trinity counties.

Unfortunately, much of the Emerald Triangle is currently classified as ecologically vulnerable. Writer S.E Smith argues in one article that the solution is to legalize pot so that large marijuana growers would go away from ecologically vulnerable areas.

The legalization of marijuana would result in environmental benefits, the article mentions.  Marijuana growers would be required to grow their crops next to other farms and thereby have to follow the same water regulations. It would allow regulators to monitor the growth of the plants and offer guidelines for reducing water usage such as establishing a rainwater collection for the summer months.

The full legalization of marijuana in California is seen as inevitable for many corporations. In efforts to prepare, The North Coast Regional Water Control Board is in the process of setting up permits associated with marijuana cultivation. Other pilots programs across the states have implemented new guidelines to cultivate marijuana in an environmentally conscious manner.

What this means for Marijuana Reform:

So what does this all mean? Essentially the drought in California is making the fight for legalization easier. In addition to all the health benefits and revenue that marijuana has the potential to bring; the environment is another reason for reform.

California has one of the largest running medical marijuana programs, but in the past, recreational marijuana has been voted down.  Since the drought has gotten to be so horrible, most people will lean towards supporting any legislation that will improve the water shortage. California’s significant loss in agricultural yield, income and employment will likely influence the decision to legalize recreational marijuana.

Furthermore, the higher tax revenues generated from marijuana will result in other states to want to cash in on marijuana as well.  Legalization in California is predicted to generate a rippling effect influencing legislation in states nationwide. As more states legalize marijuana, there will be less of a need to grow only in one area and farms will spread in other areas of the country.

Until recently, farmers sought out hidden nooks and crannies of the state to cultivate their crops. They were not conscientious about water usage or environmental regulations. Marijuana still remains largely in the shadows because its illegality makes it impossible to regulate. How do you regulate a crop that people can’t legally produce?

For now, as long as farmers offer documentation that they are growing plants on behalf of those with medical marijuana prescriptions, they can continue to grow. Unless marijuana legalization occurs, this will be an uncertain situation with minimal solutions.

Marijuana is an easily abused drug, and legalization poses other consequences. However,  medical marijuana regulations are not beneficial to the environment. The next step for California may be to protect the environment by legalizing the drug and enforcing proper regulations.

Marijuana is a mind-altering substance that can be abused just like any other drug. Research is suggesting there could be health implications from heavy use. Although marijuana reform is getting significant amounts of attention, it is important to recognize if your drug use is becoming an addiction.

Remember, legal or not, drugs can be abused and drug addiction can occur. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

High School Marijuana Use Has Decreased

High School Marijuana Use Has Decreased

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

There has been a plethora of questions surrounding marijuana in the past few years. Should marijuana be legal? If it is legal, should it be recreational use or medicinal? These are the questions being debated across the country. With several states legalizing the drug, marijuana is increasing in availability.

With all the focus on marijuana lately, one would assume that marijuana use would have skyrocketed in high school settings. Surprisingly, this is not the case.

Contrary what you might think, marijuana use in American high schools have actually gotten lower over the years.  Considering the movies that depict high school as still being full of pot smoking partying teenagers, this is not expected.

Despite the legalization of marijuana in several states, a new study reveals that high school marijuana use is significantly lower than it was 15 years ago. These numbers were surprising considering a move toward decriminalization of the drug and even recreational use in a handful of states like Colorado.

Maybe it’s one of those “If everyone starts doing it, it’s not as cool anymore” phenomenons.

Either way, Marijuana is still the most common used drug in high school. According to research done by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, researchers say marijuana is more popular then the use of other illegal drugs.  Here are the results from the study:

  • Numbers: Research shows that 40 percent of teens in 2013 answered yes to if they have ever smoked marijuana. That number decreased from 47 percent in 1999.
  • The Gender Gap: In the past, boys tended to smoke marijuana more than girls. Findings show now that boys and girls are now using marijuana at a similar rate.
  • Race: In the past, whites and blacks used to use marijuana at similar rates. Findings show now that blacks report using the drug more often.

Compared to twenty years ago, marijuana policies have undergone significant changes.

Since 1996:

  • 34 states have passed laws removing criminal sanctions for medical use of marijuana.
  • Eleven states have passed laws decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana adding to the nine passed in the late 70s.
  • Four states now allow for the recreational use of marijuana for people over 21.

All this would lead anyone to assume the use of marijuana, especially in high schools, would keep going up and up.  Study leader Renee, M. Johnson, PhD, explains more:

“People have been very quick to say that marijuana use is going up and up and up in this country, particularly now that marijuana has become more normalized. What we are seeing is that since 1999 — three years after medical marijuana was first approved — the rates of marijuana use have actually fallen. But we will be watching those states where recreational marijuana use has been legalized to see if that leads to increased use among teens.”

Time will tell is the general consensus. The 80s and 90s were the era of “just say no” and federal crackdown on illicit drugs. Yet, those were the times where drugs were high in popularity. Use of other illegal drugs has also decreased such as hallucinogens and cocaine. Alcohol and cigarette use continues to decrease alongside them.

The study recommend programs get implemented that educate students about the specific harm of marijuana use—something that is rarely ever done. The focus for too long has been on tobacco and cigarette use, Johnson stated.

“We’ve done a really good job in public health of alcohol and tobacco use prevention,” she says. “We haven’t done the same with marijuana. We would do well to follow the lessons learned from those programs, which have been pretty successful.”

Over 115,000 high school students were surveyed for the results. We’ll have to see in a couple more years how marijuana reform affects rates of marijuana use.

Like any drug, marijuana has the potential to be abused. If you feel like you may be leading into an addictive path, find someone who can get you on the path to recovery.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Marijuana Farms Dangerous to California’s Environment

Marijuana Farms Dangerous to California's Environment

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva 

Lately, the conversation regarding marijuana has shifted from “Is it safe” to “Is it safe for the environment?” The dramatic rise in pot farms in California is proving to be detrimental to the states ecosystem.

The state’s most lucrative agricultural product, marijuana, is causing water diversions and serious environmental damage. And because marijuana is not regulated like other agricultural crops, the destruction continues to get worse.

Recently, the Los Angeles Times reported that the dramatic rise in pot farms in Northern California is taking a toll on the environment. Agricultural practices like water-siphoning, pesticide spraying and littering have had a huge effect on the fragile ecosystem.

California’s marijuana farms are rapidly increasing. In one 37-square mile patch of forest, state scientist found close to 281 pot farms and 286 greenhouses containing an estimated 20,000 plants. These plants are being fed by water from creeks or the nearby Eel River.

Scientist estimates that the farms are swallowing close to 18 million gallons of water every year — water at a time when salmon need it most.  The damage is threatening the state’s coast wide fishing industry.

Fish and Wildlife officers have recently joined local narcotic teams to raid pot farms said to be draining half a million gallons of water a day from the Eel River.  Because of the murky legal status of marijuana usage, the growing industry has been overlooked since medical use was legalized in 1996.

California’s governor Jerry Brown approved a $3 million budget to monitor water use and environmental impacts from marijuana cultivation. The compliance program signals a shift in the right direction. The goal is to identify and inspect water-thirst pot gardens in sensitive natural settings.

So far, officials from the State Resources Control Board and Department of Fish and Wildlife have visited 150 sites and filed 50 environmental violations.

California’s four-year drought alerted authorities to broaden their approach to monitoring marijuana growth throughout the state. In addition to the compliance program, the state has begun to issue marijuana water permits and plans to ramp up targeting offenders through civil lawsuits.

Marijuana Environmental Crisis

  • Just one marijuana plant requires six gallons of water per day to grow—so for an industrial sized growing operation, between 12,000 and 30,000 gallons of water minimum is required.
  • Fish and Wildlife Officials reported nearly 100 environmental violations that range from damming creeks, dumping soil, or growers tapping springs.
  • Some commercial operations were found with thousands and thousands of plants that were draining 500,000 gallons of water a day from tributaries to the Eel River.
  • Narcotics officers cut down 1,426 marijuana plants due to violation. Environmental violations included draining excessive water from a mountain stream that provides cold water flows to sustain Coho salmon in Willow Creek.
  • Many farmers cultivate bigger crops to make more profit. They cut huge clearings for industrial size green houses. These operations dump tons of slit into streams during the rainy season.

Furthermore, the impact on the environment by insecticide and pollutants is significant. The insecticide Carbofuran is used to kill off bears and other animals that raid their camps. The farmers mix the insecticide with tuna or sardines; the bears eat it and die. The insecticide requires a special permit because it is lethal in small doses to humans.

Now, authorities are finding the insecticide in some of California’s more sensitive ecosystems. Seeping into the ecosystem are fertilizers, soil amendments, rodenticides, fungicides, plant hormones, diesel fuel and human waste.

Scientists are concerned that the runoff from excess potting soil combined with lower-than-normal river flow has caused toxic blue algae to appear in North Coast Rivers over the last decade. The bacteria pose a risk to swimmers and kills aquatic invertebrates that salmon and trout eat. Officials have had to warn residents and their pets to stay away from the rivers. So far, 11 dogs have died from the bacteria since 2001.

Good or bad, the cannabis boom shows no signs of slowing down. With Colorado legalizing recreational use and states like Ohio debating on the matter, it seems like an increase in pot farms is on the horizon. The growth intensifies the challenge of environmental protection. But until marijuana is legalized on the federal level, it’s hard to grasp how states are going to control the situation.

Marijuana farms are not regulated which is costly to California’s water and wildlife. Their complex legal status makes it an even harder issue to tackle.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Free and Legal Marijuana Making it to the Streets

Free and Legal Marijuana Making it to the Streets

Author: Justin Mckibben

The state of Oregon last night was ignited, and it was a little more than enthusiasm in the air at midnight as crowds gathered and counted down minutes before lighting up joints in the streets to celebrate today, July 1st, as the first official day marijuana is legal in the state.

This is all part of a growing movement that has sprouted and spread across the west coast of the United States and even popped up in the Midwest and various other areas of the nation.

At midnight hundreds of citizens in Portland, Oregon gathered on the Burnside Bridge in the downtown area and smoked up in honor of the voter approved law passed back in November.

Recreational Cannabis in Oregon

The language presented in the legislation allows for recreational use and for individuals to grow their own plants, although so far shops will not be permitted to sell marijuana. This is expected to change though by next year, despite some lawmakers saying they still seek to block retail distributors.

Regulators will start accepting business license applications in January, with stores slated for next fall. So what many growers have actually done is passed out free samples throughout the area, promoting both the reform and their product, while doing what is necessary to respect the law of the land.

According to the state Liquor Control Commission, residents are permitted to:

  • Smoke privately at aged 21 and older
  • Grow up to 4 plants
  • Possess up to 8 ounces (227 grams) at home
  • Possess 1 ounce outside home

Driving under the influence of marijuana is still illegal, and public smoking is also illegal. Strangely there have been no immediate reports of any arrests last night at the Burnside Bridge, despite the very public celebration.

Still, it appears some lawmakers are trying to hold onto what little conservative restrictions they can by combating the approval or cannabis outlet stores.

Regardless it seems like the change has been welcomed with open arms by a lot of the public. Time will tell what kind of impact this revolution has on the community.

Mercy for Marijuana in Miami

Another change came on the other coast, with Florida’s largest county now deeming it unnecessary to jail small time marijuana offenders.

People now caught in Miami-Dade County in possession of small amounts of marijuana will no longer be prosecuted with jail time, but instead will receive civil citations.

A proposal was approved just Tuesday, June 30th allowing police to issue $100 civil citations for someone found to be in possession of anything less than 20 grams of marijuana. Sally Heyman, the County Commissioner insists that her measure is aimed at sparing residents caught with these minor quantities of cannabis from receiving a criminal record, and at the same time reducing the economic burden put on the criminal justice system by imprisoning these low-level drug offenders.

Now this isn’t a guaranteed get-out-of-jail-for-pot-free card. The choice to make an arrest of a citation is still at the individual officers discretion, and police officials are still in the process of developing policies to better outline the circumstances that warrant an arrest.

Laws similar to this have apparently been enacted already in 14 other states, and Florida may soon be on the list for adjusting their drug law. While the state may not be up for such radical reforms as Oregon and others just yet, it appears lawmakers are at least willing to consider the positive impact decriminalization could have on their justice system and their communities.

That being said, what about the vast recovery community in South Florida? Is it possible that legalized marijuana in any of these areas will have an impact on those trying to recover from drug or alcohol addiction? Surely every action creates a reaction, but most recovering addicts and alcoholics will tell you a program of action keeps them from temptation, whether the substance is legal or illicit.

Despite the fact that marijuana is becoming legal in many states, it doesn’t take away from the dangers of any level or drug use, especially for an alcoholic or drug addict. Understanding that no matter what way you ingest it, the effect it has on someone with addiction doesn’t change. But you don’t have to be a victim, there is help for those who still suffer. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

So Florida is NOT Getting Medical Marijuana… Yet

So Florida is NOT Getting Medical Marijuana… YetAuthor: Justin Mckibben

The latest bit of news on the subject of whether or not the newest wave of marijuana law reforms will be washing up on the beaches of the sunshine state is not looking so bright for those in favor of medical marijuana. This past Tuesday the Florida House of Representatives cut short its legislative session three days ahead of schedule, meaning that any hope of getting any kind of medical marijuana initiative passed will have to wait… at least until 2016.

Sunshine Swing State

The Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll was released regarding the 3 swing states that are huge in the new 2016 presidential elections and the views those citizens had on legalizing marijuana. Florida was one of those states, and according to those statistics:

  • 55% of voters in Florida support recreational marijuana use
  • 84% of voters in Florida support medical marijuana
  • 17% of Florida voters say they “definitely” or “probably” would use it
  • 81% of Florida voters say they “probably” or “definitely” would not use it

So with Florida being one of the historically essential states in elections, it seems that the states stance on adjusting pot policies is a huge influence. So it does make a lot of sense that any officials in the state would want to take their time and be able to take every aspect into consideration before leading a charge that could change the country.

Looking For the Right Legislation

There are already a couple of medical marijuana bills that had been introduced in the current session, including HB 683.

  1. HB 683

This particular piece of politics is being sponsored by Representative Greg Steube, and HB 683 calls for a non-smokable form of marijuana for medical purposes, and it would only be available to be prescribed to patients suffering from:

  • Cancer
  • HIV
  • AIDS
  • ALS
  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Terminal illness

Now those all seem like pretty legitimate reasons to seek out forms of treatment that would generally be unorthodox. But others suggest that even more lenient restrictions should be put in place.

  1. Florida Medical Marijuana Act

Senator Jeff Brandes introduced the Florida Medical Marijuana Act in late January designed to give doctors the ability to use medicinal marijuana to treat patients afflicted with similar diseases.

Senator Brandes had also introduced another bill with another senator, meaning Senator Bob Bradley, which was intended to assist patients with debilitating diseases by giving them faster access to a medicinal marijuana containing lower levels of THC.

Brandes had already admitted defeat and accepted that his initiative was off the table for the current session, but while that battle was lost Brandes believes he has not lost the war. He expressed a desire to go back over the initiative this summer to get more info from experts and rehash the bill for another try at consideration.

Calling It Early

Regardless of the status of any bill, the House’s decision to shut things down with three days left before it was scheduled effectively killed any chance of moving forward with all medical marijuana bills. The House cited the ongoing debate over health-care expansion as the reason for calling it early, but some think this is an unacceptable excuse. United for Care Campaign Manager Ben Pollara said via a statement:

“Today the people we elected to represent us in Tallahassee literally abdicated their responsibility to Floridians. The House of Representatives decided to simply quit work, three days before the end of session, and with that, medical marijuana legislation is dead in Tallahassee.”

Pollara was one of many that appeared outraged that the House decided to simply tap out on account of deadlock about something as important as healthcare, especially when so many still need answers. In regards to the Houses closing up shop Pollara stated:

“Hundreds of thousands of patients across this state are sick, suffering, and dying, but the House simply quit. Nearly 3.4 million Floridians voted ‘yes’ for medical marijuana, but the House simply quit. Despite courageous leadership from senators and representatives in both houses and both parties, Tallahassee has failed us again.”

This definitely isn’t the first problem Florida has had with getting medical weed legalized in Florida. Back in November during the midterm elections the Amendment 2 initiative fell short of passing by a mere 2% points! Leaving supports disappointed but not discouraged. Amendment 2 was as close as Florida has ever come to joining 23 other states and Washington, D.C., in legalizing marijuana.

Still, United for Care and other groups in the area were hopeful that the improvement in the polls was a sign of positive change. As a result, the group began an online petition to get the initiative back on the ballot for 2016, so to some degree they were already preparing to take this movement on the long hall. Pollara and others are extremely confident that medical marijuana will make it to the polls, and that the “voters will pass what the legislature failed to.”

One fun fact- with the numbers: did you know in Florida more people voted for medical marijuana than voted for Rick Scott?

Marijuana legalization is firmly set to become a popular topic in the coming months, especially placed in the path of the presidency. It may be on the other side of the debate on drug law reform and improving mental health and addiction treatment, but what does this mean for those already struggling with the disease of addiction?

A drug is a drug, and all of them can be dangerous for an addict. While many advocate for the medical advantages that marijuana can create, others are troubled by the potential it has to affect those who battle with substance abuse and recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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