• Emily Drayton, Staff Writer

If It Blames Cannabis, It Leads

To read the news these past few months, one would think that California's water supply is being pillaged by rampaging, violent cannabis water thieves:.

  • The NY Times: “Dry California Fights Illegal Use of Water for Cannabis"

  • Washington Post: “Illegal Cannabis Growers Are Stealing Water Amid California’s Drought, Officials Say”

  • Our own LA Times: “Illegal Pot Invades California’s Deserts, Bringing Violence, Fear, Ecological Destruction”


THE SCOOP

Mother Jones tells a different story:


In California’s Water Wars,

Nuts Are Edging Out People


The Mother Jones article starts with mundane agricultural stuff:

  • "Even if you’ve never heard of California’s San Joaquin Valley, you’ve likely benefited from its existence. Its nut groves, fruit and vegetable fields, and industrial-scale dairy operations contribute mightily to the US food supply.

How mightily, you ask? Our Department of Food & Agriculture says California produces:

  • More than 400 agricultural commodities

  • Over a third of the country's vegetables

  • Two-thirds of the country's fruits and nuts

  • $49.1 billion in cash receipts in 2020.

So where’s the water really going? To cannabis? Our little $4.4 Billion industry? Or Big Ag, at $49 Billion?


The arithmetic isn't challenging.


THE DEEP DIVE

Mother Jones shows us how bad it is in the San Joaquin Valley:

  • Agriculture takes 89% of the water in the San Joaquin Valley

  • The majority of California’s 700 residential wells that have come up dry as of September are there

  • Water is being pulled so hard from the Valley aquifers that in some places the ground is sinking a foot a year

  • The water infrastructure is so fragile, especially in poor communities, that the town of Teviston lost water for 3 weeks during a 100 heatwave.

Let’s talk about how bad it is in California:

  • 100% of the state is in drought

  • 46% is Exceptional Drought which is defined as fields are not planted, orchards are knocked down, fish rescue begins, fire season is out of control year after year...

  • And here’s a telling statistic from Mother Jones – a person is estimated to use 50 gallons of water per day.

  • We have 39.5 Million people.

  • People in California therefore use 1.975 Billion gallons of water each day.

  • On June 1, the state's snowpack was at 0% of average after a historically dry winter, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

THE LOOP BACK


There’s a LOT of bad news in California. We have an epic drought, we have a huge thirsty population, we’re feeding the country from our thirsty farms.


99 problems and none of them are cannabis.


I wish the media would stick to the facts and stop blaming cannabis for California’s water problems. It’s another sneaky way to support the War on Drugs, push propaganda over truth, and forfeit any respect and integrity that are quickly vanishing in the rear view mirror for reporters and publishers alike.

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