Cartels and Their Impact of Growing Marijuana in National Parks
Ever since Richard Nixon started ‘the war against drugs’, groups – or cartels – have been running the illegal drug business. In the past ten years, the demand for the marijuana has decreased in the cartels production due to the fact that many states have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use, such as Colorado and the capital – Washington D.C. Although there are over thirty states which have legalized marijuana medicinally, the government has yet to legalize the substance at a federal level. Also, in some of the states where weed is legal, such as Massachusetts, people still have to rely on the black market in order to buy marijuana. The black market is where the marijuana business runs into some problems. Since there is still a high demand in the black market, Mexican cartels have approached the opportunity to fill the market by selling high quality weed. Also, because growing outdoors is safer and more feasible than growing indoors, they have turned to growing in the vast National Parks of California and other surrounding states. In 2004, over 60,000 plants were seized in California’s national parks and forest, and to this date, cartel’s operations are still being discovered in the parks and forest every year. The problem these cartels are causing are not only the violence they can provoke, but the damage they can cause to the ecosystem.
In order to grow marijuana plants successfully, the grower needs to make sure there are few pests that could potentially damage their crop; so, they use insecticides. The cheaper the pesticide, the worse the ingredients are for plants and surround areas. In a recent bust in Shasta-Trinity National Forest, cartels were using insecticides that contained ingredients such as carbofuran. Also, because of the size of the operation, there was enough containers of insecticides to kill a large animal, such as a 600-pound black bear – if it were to spill on the ground or in a river. Alongside the carbofuran being extremely dangerous to animal consumption and plant life, this ingredient has been banned in Europe, Canada, and other countries throughout the world. So, there is a serious threat to the ecosystems of these parks when cartels choose to set up their operation in the middle of these protected areas.
Beside the dangers of insecticides being used on these plants, the cartels do not clean up after themselves. In the same bust at Shasta-Trinity National Forest in November, authorities found over 3,000 pounds of trash around the grow operation. So, not only were the cartels using dangerous pesticides to protect their plants, they added a tremendous amount of trash in certain areas of the national forests and parks.