Cannabis for Conservation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that was formed in response to the environmental impacts of wide-scale, unsustainable cannabis cultivation. As biologists and conservationists, we saw the need for a true conservation ethic to be instituted into the burgeoning legal industry. Our motto is if cannabis is to be here, then it needs to be for conservation— not against it. The word “conservation” means something very specific in ecology— it implies use, but sustainable use. In doing so, our invaluable wild resources can be maintained in both health and integrity. Our mission is to conserve persisting resources, restore degraded ecosystems, and educate communities to prevent further impacts from unsustainable cannabis cultivation.
California legalized recreational cannabis in 2016, solidifying its place in California’s economy. Presently and for decades prior, illicit cannabis production has sustained the communities of Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity Counties, constituting the “Emerald Triangle”. Continuous unsustainable production has led to extensive environmental degradation, which is now being recognized and researched.
While not all cannabis production has been environmentally deleterious, much of historical cultivation has negatively impacted ecosystems, causing significant harm to the wildlife, land, and water of Northern California. Research has shown the presence of anticoagulant rodenticides in the wild food web, low water levels from diversion, and contamination of watersheds from fertilizer and pesticides. Much of this degradation occurs from “trespass grows”, or cannabis grows on public lands. These grows severely impact the ecosystems in which they persist, and are one of the leading threats to their stability.
It is because of this history that cannabis must make conservation a cornerstone in its foundation—not only for wildlife, but also for the health of the communities that gave rise to it.
OUR CONSERVATION ETHIC CONSISTS OF:
1) instituting conservation, adaptive management, and ecological monitoring programs for cultivator properties— the basic pillar of the industry— that will further scientific understanding of the cannabis-wildlife dynamic, enhance farm biodiversity, and further cooperative relationships between historically polarized interests
2) reclaiming trespass cannabis grows on public lands in Northern California to reduce deadly toxicants and trash on the landscape.