People Are Going to Grow Pot


Enough "already."

Edit, please.
Drugs won the drug war ages ago.
Yeah, let us grow pot or we'll set stuff on fire. Why did a grow-op start a fire?
This is a silly supposition, as 'safe and legal' agriculture starts fires all the time.

Yes, an illegal grow operation may have 'started' this fire, but the 'cause' of the fire is more likely extended drought conditions, standing fuel load and massive cutbacks in state and federal forest management. I think we could just as easily add this to the price tag of climate change, the sequester, California's anti-tax/anti-service mood or any number of other issues.
Sometimes America acts like it can reinvent humanity.
I read a similar article on this. It estimated the overall cost would be $6000 gazillion dollars.
That's just the cost to fight the fire. The forest was priceless, but if you needed to put a price on it you could start with the value of the lumber burned.

Hey, at least now there are empty fields ready for legal growing.
I wasn't aware there was anywhere left on the surface of the earth that was inaccessible by foot or by vehicle since we visited Challenger Deep. Those are some hardcore marijuana growers.
pot should be legal.

the poor sad folks who seek escape from the sad reality of their sad miserable lives by getting stoned are pathetic enough.

let them toke.....
@4&5, The way this works is that (usually) the Mexican Cartels® drop a few of their guys waaaay out in the forest to grow some pot. Actually more than some, as in a metric shit tonne. Those dudes live there for months in the woods with the weed and so besides fucking up the forest by irrigating their weed and taking shits, they have to cook their rice and beans over a campfire. Thus, you have people out in the woods making little fires that can get out of control and become big fires.
Forests are supposed to burn. Many of the plants in the Yosemite area require fire to germinate. The original inhabitants of the American continent burned the forests all the time, for forest management as well as crop and wildlife management. It is, in fact, our modern style of preventing natural forest fires that allows underbrush to build and turns naturally recurring fires into uncontrollable holocausts. FOREST FIRE PREVENTION CAUSES FOREST FIRES.

If you look at the historical record throughout the West, the evidence is clear: huge, devastating fires that destroy the large trees were extremely rare before the white man came, but have been a constant and increasing occurrence since then.

This fire was caused by the firefighters. It would have happened with or without any marijuana growing.
"Let people grow pot on farms—safely and legally—and they'll grow pot on farms. Ban growing pot on farms and people will grow it unsafely and illegally:"

Even if it is legal they'll still do it "unsafely".
Just look at all the house fires every year.
You don't legalize it to cut down on fires.
You legalize it to reduce the financial incentive for criminals.

You're wrong. In addition to lube flavors and strap-ons, Dan Savage also has a Masters degree in Forest Fire Fighting. he's right, you're wrong.
@14, that's because sequoias are extremely difficult to destroy with fire. But our current fire management is getting closer all the time. I'm not making this up. There's a chart in "A Great Aridness" by William Debuys that shows exactly what I'm talking about: from the beginning of the fire record to ~1900, there's a major fire every hundred years. Since then, every two. The chart is for Arizona, but the pattern holds for California and the rest of the southwest, and for around here as well.

People have been wringing their hands about California wildfires for over a century. It's stupid. Fire is natural. Most fires are caused by lightning or other natural events, not marijuana farmers. It is fire suppression that makes these fires dangerous by allowing the undergrowth to build up. The Indians knew that. We do too, but it is politically impossible to act on that knowledge.
"un-winnable war on pot." DRUGS not "pot".
I actually do have some professional experience in this area. A huge amount of pot is grown on National Forests in former clear cuts and fire scarred areas. These growers often use dangerous levels of pesticides, divert water from salmon streams, and set booby traps and otherwise protect their investment from not only the federal government but also from cross-country hikers, horseback riders, etc., who accidentally wander onto their farms. This isn't a joke. The big pot farms exist, and they are dangerous in many ways.

The war on drugs *has made this situation worse* by throwing small time growers into jail and letting the big cartels take over the growing and trade even more. These cartels are more likely than smaller growers to engage in this environmentally damaging behavior and to threaten the lives of people who stumble onto their operations. And it happens. It's happened to plenty of my friends in the Emerald Triangle who do back country exploring in national forests.

I highly recommend the recent This American Life Segment on episode 503 "I was just trying to help" for an interesting case in Mendocino California on a successful effort to make peace with small-time growers and the way the feds messed it up.
@15: House fires are far less dangerous abd fatal than they used to be, thanks to constantly-improving building codes.

Or said another way, government regulations can be good things. Not banning pot, here, but sensibly regulating it.
If the place is inaccessible by foot or vehicle, how did the growers get there? Horseback? Simply by being hardcore outdoorsmen and women? Air drop (seems like a stretch)? Or did the official mean that it's extremely difficult, but not impossible, to get to?
P.S. Fire is natural of forests but a century of fire suppression has created a lot of excess fuel so fires these days burn a lot hotter than the fires of days of old. Add population intrusion into the forests into the mix, and it makes for a big problem. The fires are worse and there are more people living in or near them or wanting to use them. We need controlled burns and thinnings to get these forests healthy again - and then the fires will be healthy again.
"House fires are far less dangerous abd fatal than they used to be, thanks to constantly-improving building codes."

Except that the point was that "legal" is not the same as "safe".
Dan was conflating "legally" and "safely".
If you make it legal to grow pot that does not mean that people will do it safely.
So legalizing pot is about reducing criminal revenue rather than reducing the chance of fires.
What's going on in Yosemite right now is repugnant and we should legalize the production of pot and hemp. But I think your argument makes some leaps I wouldn't make. Two things stand out for me:

* SoCal has forest fires every year and most of those don't come from the pot production. Mostly they come because we allowed people to build houses in stupid locations (aka forests that were managed poorly).

* Farming for profit certainly hasn't proven itself to be good stewards of the earth. There's nothing to say that pot and hemp growers will be any more responsible than any other big agra.
Got to go with @6 et al. on this one. It's not clear how legalizing marijuana would prevent forest fires.

I heard once that a zealot is someone who can take any event and connect it back to his or her own pet issue. The example? "A zealot is someone who'll see wildfires in California and blame it on homosexuality."
@13/17: Since the mid 70s, USFS policy has been to let naturally occurring fires burn themselves out. The problem is that if a fire might endanger private property (I believe the limit is within 10 miles), we are obligated to contain it. Because of the encroachment of rural/suburban development onto the boundaries of state/national parkland, over 80% of fires end up suppressed.

The solution? Make rural fire-insurance reflect the actual cost of battling forest fires. It's the same fucking issue with our rivers. People bitch and moan to me about the gummiment "wasting their money" on levee removal and re-vegetation. Yet when the waters rise, who's first in line, hands outstretched for that emergency aid? Yet it is political suicide to suggest we stop subsidizing people to live in dangerous fucking places.

Pre-commercial thinning is a whole 'nother barrel of fish. It's a big issue for Western Washington in particular because the permitting required here for thinning buffer zones is incredibly restrictive, leading to the overstocked stands of spindly Doug-Fir you see along most rivers. These conditions are actually harmful to trees, as the high density/low diameter makes them more susceptible to windfall and beetle damage, but less than 20% end up thinned.
A lot of the risk factor is related to climate change and not allowing undergrowth burns to "save" millionaires resort homes (which we should stop subsidizing).
Unless there was an indoor grow in Yosemite I highly doubt that marijuana cultivation had anything to do with the fire. Outdoor grows don't utilize electricity: that's the benefit of growing outdoors. Neither do they need fires to help pot grow; honestly I'm baffled as to how an outdoor grow scene could have anything to do with this.
"The cost of battling this fire should be added to the cost of fighting the idiotic, un-winnable war on pot."

C'mon, Dan. Let's extend this argument to its logical conclusion. We're fighting an idiotic, un-winnable war on drugs in general.

Prohibition taught us that laws against alcohol use only made organized crime (the Irish and Sicilian Mafias) more profitable and ended lives unnecessarily, just as the "War" against drug use has made organized crime (the Latin American and Afghani cartels) more profitable and ended lives unnecessarily.

There really is no difference.
Are you people really that dense? Dan never said that every forest fire is the result of the drug war, just that this one probably was.
@31, It's not the pot that started the fire, but the campfire for cooking the pot of beans that most likely did.
@most of you, Illegal pot growing in the national forests is real, it's common, and it's very damaging to the forests even when it doesn't set off a massive forest fire. It's also hella sketchy for any hiker who stumbles onto one of these operations. Legalizing pot would stop this as there wouldn't be any reason to grow it in the woods. Moonshining is all but gone since the end of prohibition, and the few places that still do it are usually because of local prohibition being in place.
hate to burst your bubble, but pot farming had nothing to do with the fire…
@33, Yep...turns out it was a hunter with an illegal campfire. That doesn't mean that illegal pot grows in federal forests isn't still an issue.