In one of the odder results of the “war on terror”, the tightening of the boarders has driven up drug farming within the US, and national parks are being combed by national-park ranger commandos for marijuana farmers, including in land under wilderness designation. It’s both a public safety problem, with hikers reporting encountering masked men with automatic weapons, and an environmental problem:
“This is massive-scale agriculture that is threatening the very mission of the national parks, which is to preserve the natural environment in perpetuity and provide for safe public recreation,” says Bill Tweed, chief naturalist at Sequoia National Park. “[Growers] are killing wildlife, diverting streams, introducing nonnative plants, creating fire and pollution hazards, and bringing the specter of violence. For the moment, we are failing both parts of our mission, and that is tragic.”
It’s been naive for a while to believe that drug trafficking was only an inner-city problem, and this is another piece in the puzzle of how national a crisis this is. On the one hand, legalization would possibly fix this one particular problem, as it is “only marijuana”. But while I’ve been rolling my eyes at the “marijuana funds terrorism” ads and sympathize with the arguments that it is no more harmful than alcohol, this news makes me angry at the people supporting these growers. Grow it in your closet if you must (though, given its illegality and the fact that it isn’t actually good for you, it’s still a foolish thing to do). As Mr. Tweed concludes:
“This is everyone’s problem,” says Tweed. “It’s not just a question of the moral and legal issue of marijuana. It’s an issue of commercial-sized agriculture devastating the mission of national parks to preserve land … for generations.