I was watching a program the other night about police busting illegal marijuana farms. It showed the toxic chemicals criminals use to create these gardens.
I know police usually burn the pot plants, but what happens to the toxic waste and trash left behind? The program did not address this issue.
— Michael L., Trail
Large-scale illegal marijuana gardens certainly are not environmentally friendly, Michael.
Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters said deputies who discover these gardens are disturbed by the negative impact they have on trees, soil and streams throughout Southern Oregon and Northern California.
The growers "are not very good at packing their trash out," Winters said.
Winters said he has seen fertilizer, propane tanks, human waste, food wrappers and rat poison (to keep pesky animals from eating the profits) at pot gardens. Some gardens can stretch across 10 to 20 acres. Sometimes trees are cut down and brush is cleared away to provide easier access to the site, Winters said.
The clean-up is usually left to government agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Law enforcement has assisted in the past, he said.
"We let them use our helicopter to fly out trash. It's a lot faster than hiking it out by the bag-full," he said.
The clean-up operations can cost thousands of dollars in employee time, which puts an extra burden on states and taxpayers in the current economy, Winters said.
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