Mexican Marijuana Cartels Are Spraying a Lethal Pesticide Throughout California
Mexican crime syndicates are spraying carbofuran, a banned pesticide, on weed plants throughout the California mountains. Carbofuran is so toxic that small amounts can kill full-grown bears.
Published on August 23, 2019

Illegal pot farms managed by Mexican crime syndicates are dumping a highly toxic pesticide into California’s waterways, soils, and plants. 

According to law enforcement, authorities discovered the massive black market marijuana grow — totalling 6,000 plants altogether — in the Sierra Nevada mountains. There, they also found a can of the pesticide carbofuran, commonly sold under the brand names Furadan or Curater. 

“These are federal lands, and they are being systematically destroyed through clear-cutting, stream diversion, chemicals, and pesticides,” US Attorney McGregor Scott said during a press conference, the LA Times reported. “It’s a vitally important issue.”

Carbofuran is officially banned in Canada and the European Union, though the US EPA effectively banned it in 2009, as well. Carbofuran is absorbed by plant roots and is excreted through the plant’s tissues, essentially turning the plant itself into a poison. The pesticide kills pretty much every insect or arachnid it contacts, but due to its potent toxicity, its lethality doesn’t stop at just bugs.

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“Just a teaspoon of carbofuran can kill a full-grown bear,” wrote the LA Times. In Kenya, poachers will kill lions with tiny amounts of carbofuran. In North America and Europe, it’s been used to kill coyotes, wolves, and bobcats The pesticide, which is also classified as a V-series nerve agent, works in a similar manner as VX nerve gas — a chemical weapon of mass destruction according to the UN — by completely shutting down an organism’s nervous system. Ecologists estimate that since carbofuran’s introduction in 1969, the chemical has killed millions of birds worldwide.

Carbofuran can also damage wildlife in minute amounts by interrupting hormone function, killing sperm, and injuring eggs. In humans, the toxin can cross the placental barrier between a pregnant mother and the fetus, so smoking weed spiked with carbofuran is no joke.

Although the obvious culprits here are the illicit pot farmers soaking otherwise good weed in bear-killing poison, the only reason these farms even exist is because California’s legal weed regulations and federal prohibition. Even federally-funded scientists recently declared that the US government’s war on marijuana is threatening public health and the environment. 

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“At the federal level in the United States, cannabis is still considered an illegal drug,” read an article in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, which is supported by the National Institutes of Health. “As a result, neither the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided any guidance on how to regulate contaminants or on which cannabis-related exposures can be considered safe.”

So, with a final word to The Powers That Be: Legalize marijuana already, and keep the regulations focused on public health and safety, not taxes and hefty licensing fees.

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Randy Robinson
Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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