California’s Humboldt County is legendary for its weed scene. Long before cannabis became legal in The Golden State, this region was a hotbed of cannabis cultivation. So much so, in fact, that it’s been nicknamed The Emerald Triangle. But all this cultivation has produced a number of environmental problems. And now, as the county tries to expand the legal marijuana industry, some are afraid those problems could get worse. In fact, the Humboldt County marijuana industry was sued over environmental concerns.
The suit was filed yesterday by environmental group Friends of the Eel River (FOER). According to a press release published by the organization, they are suing the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors for approving an expansion to the county’s legal marijuana industry.
Last month, officials in Humboldt County passed the Cannabis Cultivation Land Use Ordinance. This measure opened the door for the county to give permits to up to 3,500 new marijuana grow sites. Further, those sites would be allowed to take up as much as 1,200 acres of land.
For those in favor of the measure, it’s a chance to grow the legal cannabis industry. Additionally, some see it as a way to get rid of illegal grows by increasing the number of legally regulated grow sites.
But FOER thinks otherwise. The group is concerned that all that new cultivation activity could harm the local environment. Further, FOER claimed that the county did not adequately study the possible environmental impacts of increased cultivation activity before passing the ordinance.
The group said that the county’s new bill failed to conduct “the careful analysis necessary to ensure those operations will not have significant impacts on Humboldt County’s watersheds and wildlife.”
FOER added: “Adverse watershed impacts associated with marijuana cultivation include increased sediment from roads, stream crossings, and grading activities; dewatering salmon-bearing streams; and introduction of toxic pesticides and fertilizers.”
As a result of these concerns, FOER has now sued the county. They are hoping to stall the implementation of the county’s new measure. And ultimately, the group hopes to block any new cultivation activity until further study of environmental impacts is completed.
Humboldt County Cannabis Cultivation
Humboldt County has a long history of cannabis cultivation. At the same time, it also has a long history of environmental damage arising from that activity.
In many cases, illegal growers use dangerous pesticides that can poison local wildlife and leach into waterways. One specific example of this is the Pacific fisher.
The fisher is a small mammal that has been dying off in California. In fact, it is now an endangered species. And many researchers point to cannabis cultivation as one of the leading factors in the demise of the species. Scientists claim that the pesticides used on illegal grow sites in the region have poisoned large numbers of fishers.
Now, groups like FOER are worried that the county’s latest actions will produce more harm like this.