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There have been a myriad of arguments made in California courts supporting the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana. But as reported in the Contra Costa Times, a lawsuit filed in San Bernadino Superior Court by Riverside attorney Letitia Pepper is most certainly a first. Her suit claims that the county’s March 2011 ban on marijuana dispensaries and outdoor cultivation violates the California Environmental Quality Act.
“I’ve actually just found even more evidence to use in my favor,” said Pepper, director of Crusaders for Patients' Rights, in a phone call earlier today. “I have an article recently published in a scientific journal about the carbon footprint of medical marijuana cultivation. It shows how 1 percent of all electricity in America is being used to grow cannabis. Not only is that a lot of greenhouse gasses being created, but it makes for a lesser product,” she explained. “What people don’t realize is that cannabis grown outside is better medically. I’ve spoken to several growers, and they all swear by it.”
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Typically when authorities are complaining about marijuana, it’s a legal issue. But in Santa Cruz County, outdoor marijuana grows are causing problems of a more unexpected kind. As reported in the San Jose Mercury News, the marked rise in outdoor weed grows over the last year is raising concerns of environmental degradation and increased potential for wildfires.
For Cal Fire officials, that rise can be measured in the number of new cases of unlawful timber operations. Where 2010 only saw approximately three new cases, last year that number spiked to 22 new incidents.
"They're creating a huge fire hazard in leaving those there," said Cal Fire Division Chief Rich Sampson in the Mercury News of the felled trees left behind. "Often, they're camping there. So the chance of fire is greatly increased."