News Environment Suspected Pot Growers Start California Wildfire By Shea Gunther Writer University of New Hampshire Rochester Institute of Technology University of Southern Maine Shea Gunther is a writer, entrepreneur, and podcaster living in Portland, Maine. He covers topics such as renewable energy, climate change, and nature. our editorial process Shea Gunther Updated February 14, 2020 Cannabis farms aren't regulated, so they pose a threat to the land. (Photo: Lukas Gojda/Shutterstock) Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices Here's another reason we should legalize drugs -- a wildfire in California is being blamed on a Mexican drug cartel's marijuana field camp. 87,000 acres of national forest burned down after a fire started on Aug. 8. Officials think it was started by a cooking fire near a marijuana grow field run by a Mexican drug cartel. They also believe the growers were still in the area and trying to escape on foot. If marijuana were legal, this wouldn't have happened. Legal marijuana would be grown in proper fields like potatoes and soybeans are now. It'd sprout up in backyard plots and inside greenhouses. As it is now, marijuana fields are being pushed deeper and deeper into national forests and parks and private lands. Because there is no regulation of the industry (estimated to be California's largest cash crop), there's no one to make sure that farmers clean up after themselves, stay out of environmentally sensitive areas, and generally take care of their land. Instead they create new trails, mow down native vegetation, leave behind trash and chemical fertilizers, and start forest fires when trying to cook up some dinner. The drug war is a failure. We spend billions of dollars a year fighting it and get very little out of it except ruined lives, crowded prisons and burned-down forests. But hey, the cops get to play with big shiny toys and prison guard unions get great 401k plans. The status quo is working great for them. Not so well for the rest of us. Or the forests.