California marijuana farms are putting local animals on the endangered species list

The Humboldt marten, a (much cuter) cousin of the weasel, has been placed on the endangered species list thanks to marijuana croppers.

humboldt-marten
Humboldt Marten, c/o Wikimedia and Creative Commons license

Marijuana is the only class-A drug with zero fatalities. But it's killing off a delightful forest creature in California's Humboldt County. How delightful, you may ask? Check this little guy out: 


The Humboldt marten is a distant cousin of the common weasel, and by all accounts (i.e. a non-scientific study in the Big Think office wherein I invited people to look at the above video) is "totally adorable". The thing is: they're dying in large numbers thanks to marijuana farmers in the Humboldt area. Because of this, California recently announced that it was moving the Humboldt marten to the endangered species list. 

With between 4,000-15,000 Humboldt area marijuana farms (varying from small to large and legal to not-so-legal), there's a lot of marijuana. And marijuana, you may be surprised to find out, is pretty tasty to mice and rats.

To stop this problem, marijuana farmers use a lot of rat poison to keep the rodents at bay, because rats often eat the crops and get super stoned. Which might sound hilarious (and, well, it is, because it mainly just makes them lazy), but this rodents-getting-lit issue accounts for huge losses. Consider the case earlier this year when mice in Brazil ate a half-ton of marijuana (about $5 million in street value), which one can imagine must have been like their Coachella x a million. 

Jokes and huge financial losses aside, the rat poison is finding its way into the streams and rivers and even killing off northern spotted owls, barred owls, and more. Mourad Gabriel, co-director of Integral Ecology Research Center was quoted by The Guardian on the issue, saying “It’s like they all shop at the same grocery store. And we have clear and stark evidence that the food web for the northern spotted owl is contaminated, and martens live in the same habitat." 

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