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Why Are Illegal Drugs so Harmful For the Environment?
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Why Are Illegal Drugs so Harmful For the Environment?

Drugs are an issue that a lot of people suffer from. Well, I am specifically talking about illegal drugs here, but we know that there are others as well. But, when they are illegal, issues such as corruption and legal problems, even though they are quite a large load to carry for any society, they are just the tip of the iceberg. What other problems do they cause? What makes them harmful to the environment

For the moment, marijuana is the worse drug plant that one could grow, and it is largely due to the illegal aspects of harvesting it. In most places, the only way to care for it is to hide it in a closet with a lamp on 24 hours, which consumes an incredible amount of electricity, along with dehumidifiers and fans, on top of everything else that this plant needs to grow healthy. If this was legal, we all know that the footprint wouldn’t be so high, but that is for another debate entirely…

Afterwards, there is the act of smoking it. Of course, there is the option of baking them into brownies, but most don’t do that – they prefer the quicker fix of rolling it up and passing it around. This causes a very high amount of carbon dioxide – as a matter of fact, the number is around two pounds per joint.

However, in countries where there is ample space to harvest it without lawmakers necessarily growing it, farmland that could be used for food or rain forests are destroyed for the purpose of providing industrialized countries with their drug fixes. Same goes for coca plants. Plus, according to National Geographic, the quantities of herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers needed are considerable, and petroleum is an important ingredient in turning coca into cocaine. They often also use kerosene or gasoline to mash the plants and make them into powder.

As for meth, we all know what kind of product goes into it. Such high levels of chemicals should never be consumed by a human, and the toxic waste created is incredible. Heroine is another one that is high on the toxic levels because it needs strong products such as ammonia, acetone or hydrochloric acid to extract it from the plant.

All these reasons are strictly on the harvesting, extracting and consumption levels. What about other dangerous consequences the consumption of drugs has on the environment?

At the moment, what is happening is that the wars that some countries, such as the United States, are taking part in tracking down and eliminating cartels wherever they live. In places such as Mexico and Colombia, they send numerous soldiers, which is a threat to the environment because of the production of weapons they use, the travelling they do, the space they take up in the drug-host countries, and the actual damage done on the ground when they are there since often, these crops are burnt, which leaves a devastating and unusable land where there was once rich soil for crops or for a forest. Then, the United States are also continuing the dumping of highly toxic and dangerous chemical agents such as herbicides from the sky, not caring if it might come in contact with other plant species - even endangered flora – in the places where they believe illegal crops are growing. This even has an impact on the population of these locations as skin cancer rates raise rapidly. Water supplies are contaminated and entire forests disappear.

This practice is more environmentally damaging than the actual growing of the drug. Although the Americans are well aware of their misguided attempts, they don’t stop. Which begs the question: what are they doing?

Further investigations also prove that this method doesn’t even discourage cartels as they simply move to another location, leaving behind the devastated lands.

So, if you are faced by the temptation of a buddy who only wants you to chill with him, don’t give in to the pressure and tell him: I’d rather hug a tree.So, if you are faced by the temptation of a buddy who only wants you to chill with him, don’t give in to the pressure and tell him: I’d rather hug a tree.


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  1. Veganara
    Voted. A powerful and thought-provoking blog, I had no idea of all this! I hope SnakeWitch comments on it with what she knows from living in Colombia.
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  2. Daniel Garcia
    Daniel Garcia
    Vote #3. Such a complicated issue. Which begs the question: "what are they doing?" Majority of drug consumption happens in the US. Right now, some states have already legalized the consumption and manufacturing of some drugs. A big change could happen in the near future - but we really don't know for sure.
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  3. kristo
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  4. SnakeWitch
    What I know from here? Not much. I know Escobar's death didn't really do much to help Colombia's image, and I can garantee that Colombians are not the major consumers of their own illegal products. It's a huge market for them and they forego growing food for this largely because fruit trees are so readily available and cost next to nothing to care for that they don't need to pay much for food quite often, if they know where to buy it. I've been on a bus that has been sprayed by this chemical. There is a hole in my sweater because a leak in the roof let in a few drops. The driver got out and hosed down his bus at the next restaurant - they all offer that because of what is going on. The inter-city buses are often in dire shape because of it, and it is highly recommended to fly around certain target areas - the nearer the jungle, the worse it gets. As for the war here, it's out of control. The Americans aren't here to stop drugs at all. That's a big lie, just like the wars in the East. They're here for the oil and the industrial development - we now see McDonalds sprouting everywhere and American company workers stationed here. Unions are out of whack and the leaders hunted down and killed, and the place is ripe with social injustice. The cities abound with beggers that were kicked off their lands for the resources or the farmland. Guerrillas are blamed but they're the ones keeping this place from becoming a banana republic or an American dictatorship. Drugs are just an excuse, although drugs are a major problem.If the Americans truly wanted to, with the technology they have, they could hunt down every drug owner here and eradicate their lands extremely quickly and easily. They¡re making too much money off of this war - from both the sales of the equipment and the possibility of resource extraction - to actually do it for real.
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    1. Veganara
      Thanks Annie. That's a blog in itself! Shocking but not surprising. The huge amount of corruption in the world, I mean. You would think it would be particularly bad in South America, but as you say, the North Americans who are allegedly "cleaning the place up" are just as bad!
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      1. SnakeWitch
        I doubt a blog about corruption would stay open for very long... ;)
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  5. the accidental vegan
    I really enjoyed reading your article. You exposed every aspect of whats wrong with drugs and its effects. Thank you.
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