Detroit residents were beyond baffled when a stunning orange and purple-haze illuminated the sky above the city’s river on Tuesday, Nov. 24. Was this the alien encounter we’ve all been expecting in 2020?
Unfortunately, no. A Canadian politician confirmed that aliens were, in fact, not the cause of the sky's purple haze. But, she did say that it was caused by greenhouse cannabis farms in her municipality.
“We are basically the greenhouse cannabis capital,” Mayor Hilda MacDonald of Leamington, Ontario said to Detroit TV station WDIV. The glow was caused by a grow operation's LED lights — but not just any grow op. The ethereal hues came from Aphria’s cultivation site. Yes, you read that correctly: The skylights came from Aphria — as in the global cannabis production and distribution giant.
An Aphria representative explained that their greenhouses use “LED lights, which is a closer match to the light plants use for photosynthesis — and these lights have a purple color to them.”
As dope as the lights look, they are mired in a bit of controversy. Leamington authorities have been on the fence about whether to fine the greenhouse operators for “light pollution,” just as neighboring district Kingsville already has.
At present, a Leamington bylaw allows the authorities to clamp down on all or part of a cannabis business if its practices “constitute a public nuisance or cause or contribute to activities or circumstances constituting a public nuisance in the vicinity of the premises.”
While the LED light show isn’t a new phenomenon, it may start happening more frequently as pot prohibition continues to deteriorate. In fact, a purple glow engulfed the night sky in Navajo County, Arizona earlier this year, which was also caused by a legal medical marijuana farm's LED lights.
Two years ago, the CBC reported on the psychedelic sky show above both Leamington and Kingsville. At that time, Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos said he had heard from residents who were concerned about the lights’ impact on wildlife and others who simply enjoyed them.
“Some see the different colors as a northern light kind of experience, and they see beauty in it,” Santos said. “But certainly, the town has taken the stand overall to try and protect the dark sky so that, you know, we don't disrupt mother nature any more than [has] already happened.”
As we stated, Kingsville took legislative action to control the radical weed glow. Leamington may be next — or perhaps they’ll just change their local anthem to “Purple Haze.”