Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Environmental Impacts of Illicit Drug Production


Illegal drug production, specifically marijuana in California, and cocaine in South America, is resulting in intensive environmental degradation. While commonly cited as detrimental to societal health, the impacts of illicit drugs are rarely referred to as environmentally threatening. Ecosystem toxification, greenhouse gas emissions, and unsustainable water usage account for a variety of malign effects resulting from the plantation, harvest, and production of cannabis and cocaine. Ecosystem degradation remains a serious concern into the 21st century, a result indicative of the fact that current methods designed to stem the drug-trade too often involve reactionary enforcement measures by unitary actors. Preventive, not reactive, actions must be implemented to stop the production of illicit drugs in their initial stages, before ecosystem injury occurs. Coordinated efforts involving the integration of environmental and enforcement agencies, in intrastate and international realms, will be imperative for the establishment of a competent, global, anti-drug security system. Public sector involvement, through petitions and advertising campaigns by non-governmental organizations and environmental interest groups, can assist government efforts by raising awareness of drug-initiated ecosystem degradation and persuading constituents to lobby legislators for legal revisions.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View