When people argue in favor of marijuana legalization, they often talk about the medical benefits of cannabis. Or perhaps they’ll talk about how it can help raise revenues for local governments. Or maybe they talk about how it can help solve social justice issues. And all of those things are true and good arguments. But you can also make a case that legalizing marijuana can help the environment.
Here are six ways legalizing marijuana is actually good for the environment:
1. Illegal Grows are Really Bad
Growing marijuana takes a lot of resources, mostly energy and water. But when marijuana is illegal, people growing cannabis have to take even more measures to keep their grows hidden. And those extra measures mean illegal growers consume even more resources to grow marijuana. Making marijuana legal helps lower the costs of growing cannabis, and also allows growers to take part in sustainable energy practices that are beneficial to the environment.
2. Destroying Illegal Weed is Also Really Bad
What do you think police officers or federal agents do with illegal marijuana they find? They destroy it. They usually spray the illegal cannabis with herbicides and then set it on fire. So in addition to scorching the earth around the marijuana, destroying the cannabis also releases those herbicides into the environment where it can mess with other plants or animals.
3. Hemp Helps Soil
Hemp is one of the best crops for farmers to grow from an environmental point-of-view. Hemp grows quickly and helps remove toxins from the soil as it does so. And then once it finishes growing, it breaks down and fills the soil with nutrients. That means whatever you grow in the soil after hemp will grow even better thanks to hemp. And legalizing marijuana would help make hemp farming even more popular.
4. Public Lands
A lot of illegal marijuana is grown in public forests and woods where growers can keep it hidden. This also means that these growers are introducing pesticides and toxins to help grow their plants in public lands where they aren’t wanted and can disrupt the local ecosystem. If marijuana is legal, people could grow cannabis on their own private property and not destroy public lands to do so.
5. Drug Smuggling is Bad for the Environment
Drug smuggling is bad for any number of reasons, but it’s also bad for the environment. Cartels often use generators, diesel storage tanks and animal poison to protect their drugs as they smuggle it across the border. Studies show legalizing marijuana reduces cartel profits and makes them move into other businesses. So therefore legalizing marijuana means less drug smuggling, which means less impact on the environment.
6. Pizza is Worse
Ok, this isn’t a reason marijuana is good for the environment as much as showing that it isn’t as bad as people say. A lot of people note that growing cannabis requires a lot of water and electricity. But a single joint of marijuana requires an estimated 0.25 gallons of water to produce. A SINGLE SLICE of pizza, on the other hand, requires 40 gallons of water to produce. So the next time someone talks about how bad cannabis is for the environment, tell them that pizza is more than 40 times worse.