Banned Pesticide Use Increasing At Illegal California Farms

By Benjie Cooper

IG: @nuglifenews

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A rise in the use of dangerous banned pesticides at many illegal marijuana growing sites in California is prompting state and federal authorities to combine efforts to try and gain control of the situation.

Cannabis is legal in California but still federally illegal, though officials say that they will only be targeting unlicensed marijuana operations in California and not legal ones.

The concentrated insecticide, Carbofuran is banned in the United States because of its high toxicity, but it is still used in illegal cultivation. According to Integral Ecology Research Center (IERC) senior ecologist Mourad Gabriel in an interview with Associated Press, a quarter-teaspoon is strong enough to kill a three-hundred pound bear.

Over half of California’s water supply flows through national forests, and IERC research is showing contamination in 40 percent of downstream water samples. Traces of Carbofuran are also showing up in cannabis samples.

“They’re using it, not even for the purpose it was designed to be used for,” said U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott. “They’re using it as a rodenticide instead to kill all the animals. So that’s what’s different; this is a game changer to me.”

According to Scott, cartels are smuggling Carbofuran in from Mexico and trekking it deep into the forest where they clear trees and set up guerrilla cultivation sites. The pesticide is popular because of its potency; less of it needs to be hiked in for the growing season.

“It’s gone to a different level,” says Scott. “And if we don’t reverse the environmental effects of what’s going on here, we’re gonna be reaping that.”

In a Tuesday press conference, officials announced that they would be appropriating $2.5 million in federal funds to combat unlicensed cultivation operations that are threatening California forests and wildlife.