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Drugs that harm the environment

Apart from the adverse health impacts of taking illicit drugs, those like cannabis and ecstasy have huge environmental impacts that range from water wastage, deforestation to land sinking.

Here are some examples:

  • cultivating the plants in greenhouses, with lighting, ventilation and temperature control, guzzles a huge amount of resources. In the United States approximately 15 million tons of carbon dioxide are emitted as the result of indoor cannabis production. According to a report by the University of California, this is equal to the annual emissions of 3 million cars!

  • Cannabis production needs twice as much water as tomatoes or grapes. This exacerbates our water shortages in dry seasons and lowers water levels in streams.

  • Production of ‘Party drugs’ like ecstasy results in volumes of toxic waste such as sodium hydroxide, hydrochloric acids and acetone. These substances are dumped carelessly in drums and leak into waterways. They are so harmful that in normal cases they have to be disposed of as hazardous waste using protective suits.

According to Jeremy Douglas, from UN's Office on Drugs and Crime for Southeast Asia, says “Thailand, Laos and Myanmar have also become a hub for ‘industrial scale’ global synthetic drug production in recent years. The spillover damage to groundwater and habitats is severe, and frankly it is nothing short of an ecological and public health disaster”.


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