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Hemp4water … or, on second thought …

April 16, 2014
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Yesterday, we blogged about a candidate for Attorney General whose plan to solve Florida’s water problems involves hemp. Bill Wohlsifer says he’d like to see the production of industrial hemp made legal in Florida to help fund the construction of new infrastructure and water-quality programs. Wohlsifer’s platform says that hemp is a natural remedy for our water woes. However, a story published today in Mother Jones may poke holes in that theory. According to MJ, researchers in California are finding that the production of marijuana – not hemp, admittedly, but pretty damn close – is doing damage to that state’s water sources. A study completed by the California Fish and Wildlife Department determined that the boom in the pot-plant business has put immense strain on three important watersheds in the Emerald Triangle. “Researchers estimate each plant consumes 6 gallons of water a day,” MJ reports. “At that rate, the plants were siphoning off 180,000 gallons of water per day in each watershed – all together more than 160 Olympic-sized swimming pools over the average 150-day growing cycle for outdoor plants.”

Of course, as the piece points out, growing marijuana is still not legal, so the pot farms in the state are totally unregulated. If they were made legal, the state could require pot farmers to put water-conservation measures into place, making the marijuana industry much more environmentally friendly.

 

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  • W Steven Edmonds Jr

    I really appreciate the concern for water resources and pollution sources. It shows someone is thinking. I would like to point out a couple of items. First of all the medical marijuana community is pushing for growing indoors. Those activities are not going to affect the storm water problems we already face. That being said they, should be and will be, mandated to manage their water properly and would be regulated like any other business consuming and using water. Industrial Hemp which is a totally different set of industries requires little to no pesticides and fertilizers and a fraction of the water that traditional crops need. That means it is less impactful and more productive and the plan presented in hemp4water is based on utilizing 1/4 of the lands that are already in production in the state. So in reality we should see less of a burden on our water supply and the run-off will be cleaner than present ag activities. Please understand the differences between industrial, medicinal, and recreational uses and industries that they will create because they all have different realities.