Is the War on Drugs a War on the Environment?
The War on Drugs has a complex and multi-layered relationship with the environment, often bordering on a full-scale War on the Environment. Read more in our April/May issue of the Monthly Mosaic here. Then, check out the below resources to learn more about the intersection of the social and environmental crises we find ourselves in.
“Eradication campaigns have affected food security, caused damage to the environment, and forcibly displaced populations dependent on illicit crop cultivation as well as those who are not.”
“Deforestation, limiting access to pain relief, forcing farmers into poverty: we need to wake up to the fact that prohibiting drugs causes more harm than good.”
“Coca production drives deforestation in some of the most ecologically sensitive parts of the Amazon rainforest, and the chemicals involved in cocaine production in makeshift jungle laboratories poison water supplies for surrounding people and wildlife.”
“Current drug control efforts are already impacting upon the development sector’s efforts to achieve sustainable development.”
“The Amazon has long been a conduit for cocaine trafficked from the Andes to the Atlantic. But increasingly, drugs have been diverted to Manaus leading to a surge in crime and violence.”
“Drug trafficking is responsible for the massive destruction of rainforests across Central America, according to a new study.”
“Analysing communal wastewaters for drugs and their metabolic products in order to estimate their consumption in the community is a developing field, involving scientists working in different research areas, including analytical chemistry, physiology and biochemistry, sewage engineering, spatial epidemiology and statistics, and conventional drug epidemiology.”
“In a business dependent on the health and vigor of a single plant, the lack of guidance over what kinds of cannabis pest-control measures are appropriate has left growers struggling to safeguard crops as they try to appease regulators and the public.”
“Researchers have estimated that indoor grow operations account for a whopping 1 percent of total electricity use in the United States each year…That’s about the same amount of electricity consumed by every computer in every home and apartment in the country annually.”
“Forced eradication — chemical, biological, manual, or any other form — of crops produced by small farmers is contrary to human rights, causes diverse forms of conflict, expands countries’ agricultural frontier, leads to environmental degradation, causes food insecurity and destroys rural economic survival strategies.”
“The global coca growers need to grow much more coca than necessary to meet demand because perhaps 55 percent of refined cocaine is seized before it reaches the market. In addition, more coca needs to be grown in anticipation that fields will be detected and eradicated before the coca can be harvested and processed into cocaine.”
“Illegal drug laboratories are not only a law enforcement challenge due to the illegal manufacture of controlled substances; they also have significant public health, safety and environmental impacts.”
“State biologists began to notice a significant impact of marijuana cultivation on wildlife starting around 2009. Persistent drought has put pressure on the state to more closely manage water resources.”
“As more states legalize marijuana in the U.S., pot cultivation is sucking up an ever-growing amount of energy from the grid.”
“This study utilizes geographic location data on 14,448 seized methamphetamine laboratories to document the association between the presence of methamphetamine labs and economic factors, social factors, and crime.”
“Indoor cannabis cultivation is one of the most energy-intensive industries in the U.S., requiring electricity to power lamps, to maintain consistent temperature and humidity levels, and to power fans for ventilation, among other things. This energy consumption, unless otherwise mitigated, results in significant greenhouse gas emissions.”
“In light of 75 per cent of B.C.’s population being in support of cannabis legalization* – higher than any other province or territory – public conversations continue to linger on the negative repercussions of illegal production. Into the Light examines opportunities to progress the dialogue on legal cultivation to topics such as sustainability, environmental consciousness, positive social impact, and economic potential.”
“Carbon tax is becoming normal. How will this affect the costs associated with cannabis production?”
“[The] cannabis industry is a heavy energy user but has potential to go green with the right technology and incentives.”
“Across the world, cultivators and traffickers of illicit drugs are wreaking ecological havoc—clearing fields from primary rainforest, piggy-backing drug smuggling with traffic in illegal hardwoods and endangered species, and laundering money in land deals that devastate protected forests.”
“A few serious tweaks to global drug policy could have positive and lasting effects on the global environment.”
“Drug use is a complex, hidden and often highly stigmatised behaviour. This is also why measuring it is such a difficult task. Wastewater analysis is a rapidly developing scientific discipline that has the potential to provide objective and real-time data.”
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Each Monthly Mosaic is edited by Kat Murti and Emory Basso. This issue also features contributions by Katie Stone, Rachel Wissner, and Sarah Merrigan.
Each month, SSDP’s Diversity, Awareness, Reflection and Education (DARE) committee publishes the Monthly Mosaic, a newsletter dedicated to exploring intersectionality and the War on Drugs. Previous issues have covered topics such as domestic violence, trans awareness, Black Lives Matter, and women’s unique experiences with the drug war. The DARE Committee strives to promote inclusivity within the SSDP network, and facilitate collaboration and engagement with presently underrepresented perspectives, individuals, and movements. In order to ensure that the Monthly Mosaic more intentionally and meaningfully reflects these values, the DARE committee is pleased to invite members of our student and alumni network to submit ideas for upcoming issues.