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Marijuana Drains Water Supply
News Bytes 09/20/2021 31 Comments

Legalize it. Regulate it. And tax it.

That was a major argument behind the movement to remove marijuana from the banned substances list in many states in recent years. According to the “wisdom” of humankind, making marijuana legal for recreational adult use would solve problems associated with the mind-altering substance.

Fewer people would fill prisons on “minor” charges of possession, supporters said. If legalized, then production could be monitored. That was supposed to limit the opportunity for marijuana to be contaminated with more dangerous drugs. Plus, those lobbying for the status change said that it is within an adult’s freedom of choice to use marijuana. Doing so causes no one else harm, they claimed.

But as is often the case with human decisions, negative consequences that were not predicted are arising. Laws are still being broken, and individuals are experiencing harm in the form of unpredicted fallout.

Jack Dwyer is one of those suffering. In 1972, Dwyer and his family started a small organic farm on an idyllic parcel of land in Oregon. Deer Creek ran through the property. The Dwyers used water from the creek to irrigate their modest plot of crops. They applied for a permit to draw water from that creek.

But now Deer Creek has run dry. Why? Several illegal marijuana farms, called “grows,” cropped up in the neighborhood last spring. As legalization of recreational marijuana and some of its byproducts has grown, so has the demand for it. Opportunists who want to cash in quickly plant without permits—and steal water from streams and aquifers without legal access too.

From dusty towns to forests in the U.S. West, illegal marijuana growers are taking water in uncontrolled amounts when there often isn’t enough to go around for even licensed users like Dwyer.

According to the Cannabis Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, California today has more illegal cannabis farms than licensed ones. That’s despite the fact that marijuana sales and use were legalized in 2016. In Oregon as well, the number of illegal grows appears to have increased. The impact is worsened due to extremely dry conditions in the Pacific Northwest. This spring was the region’s driest since 1924.

“Because peak water demand for cannabis occurs in the dry season, when streamflow is at its lowest levels, even small diversions can dry streams and harm aquatic plants and animals,”  a study from the research center says. Food production also suffers.

Sheriff Dave Daniel of Josephine County, Oregon, says that hundreds of illegal grows in his county are funded by overseas investors. He believes the financiers expect to lose a few grows as they are discovered. But the sheer number of them means that many will last until the marijuana is harvested and sold on the black market outside Oregon.

Daniel and his deputies found and destroyed an illegal grow that had 200,000 plants. The illicit farm was drawing water from Deer Creek using pumps and pipes. Daniel called it “one of the most blatant and ugly things I’ve ever seen.”

“They had actually dug holes into the ground so deep that Deer Creek had dried up . . . and they were down into the water table,” the sheriff says.

The Deer Creek streambed is now an avenue of rocks bordered by brush and trees.

“I just don’t know what I will do if I don’t have water,” Dwyer, a 75-year-old retired middle school teacher, says as he watches his means of watering his crops disappear.

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” asks Isaiah 55:2. Every person is made by God with an inherent longing for something only our Creator and Savior Himself can fill. Outside of Christ, people will seek to fill that empty space with all manner of things to soothe and hide the feeling of need. For some, it’s alcohol or substances like marijuana. Others may overuse food, entertainment, or social media or seek wealth—even outside of legal boundaries and too often to the detriment of others.

Even believers will at times experience loneliness, emptiness, pain—all examples of the “cast down soul” of the Psalms. But rather than fill it with a worldly offering that will never satisfy, the Christian is encouraged to “wait in silence” for “God alone.” All our hope is in Him. (Psalm 62:5)

(Jack Dwyer stands in the dry bed of Deer Creek in Selma, Oregon, on September 2, 2021. Dwyer’s organic farm is threatened by illegal marijuana grows that steal water from the stream and underground aquifers. Carol Valentine via AP)

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Most recent comments

1st Comment

That is so sad. They need to just make it totally illegal and get rid of it. Also, those crops are the farmers source of income (unless he or his wife has another job, or course) but I know for my family it is, and we already have to be careful with our water. I am sure it is very discouraging to watch your field wither away because some other illegal people stole all of your water. I think that I would be very angry.

1st comment.

Marihuana is supposed to be illegal, it can kill you!

3rd Comment

If I had a farm and somebody was doing this to me I would go upstream to find the "grows" and destroy those suckers.


Hello, this is Corban. I have been on here for a while, but I'm not one of those comment everyday types. ( Nothing to anyone who does this, by the way. ) Anyway, I am getting off-topic. This is a violation of law, and law is put there you or nobody else gets hurt. This is what could happen, "grows" drain water from natural resources = fewer people have water to drink. Soon enough, the "grows" will not have any water left for their marijuana crops. So, if "grows" don't obey the law, they and other people will be hurt.

@ Corban

Thanks, I like your perspective


You are welcome.


We have so many cannabis/marijuana shops here! I live in central Oklahoma in a suburb of the capital and unfortunately marijuana is legal. The street we live off of has dozens and I'm not exaggerating.


My grandpa is a band teacher and long story short a while ago one of his students' flute was stolen and it was later discovered blackened with marawana (hehehe) smoke in an apartment that was raided by the police a while later.

@ Asher E

Good idea but don’t burn the Sickening water suckers because then everyone might as well have sucked the suckers anyway:)

@Franz R

I would just blow the whole thing up.

this is mylee

;! this is horrible.

this is mylee

wrong emoji :l

Why was it made?

I wish it didn't exist to begin with...

@Asher E

I wish!

Hmm. Now, none o' ya'll try

Hmm. Now, none o' ya'll try to apply Jesus's parable about the weeds choking the seeds to this... Jest a little different, people. ; )

@Asher E

Woah, woah, back the boat up, bro! (Ik, Ik, the stream's dry, but just do it anyway) "Destroy those suckers"? Not everyone who grows weed is a complete jerk, y'know. And, um, there are legal ways of dealing with a problem like that. I'm not saying it's easy, but then you'll get destroyed in court for wrecking their property.


I agree. Just because someone does something wrong does not mean that we should do something back to them in return.

I used to be on board with

I used to be on board with the idea of making marijuana legal, because people should be able to behave themselves and people can control themselves, but after seeing this i'm having doubts. I think we give ourselves--humanity--too much credit sometimes.


if Adam and Eve wouldnt of sinned we wouldnt have marihuana in the first place. @kn you live in Oklahoma City!? my dad grew up there! sorry about your drug dealer problem. Marihuana should definenitly be illegal.

@ corban

Im pretty new too. Welcome to WT!

@Hesperus D

I'm talking about the illegal farms, if they're destroying my crops I consider them a jerk.

@ Lydia

Yeah, in a suburb. The problem is, if marijuana was illegal, people would just sell it anyway, illegally, and then there would be more problems for the law enforcement to deal with. The real problem here is sin, like you said.

@Asher E

Funny thing; so do I. Lol. But, you tell me, does charging over there with a shotgun or taking them to court get more done? Option A gets YOU in trouble too, and option B (hopefully) gets those responsible to pay for the damage.

@Lydia P

Actually, from what I've heard, weed CAN have it's medical uses. However, I will be among the first to admit most of the people using it are probably not in need of it. If I've heard correctly, weed isn't that bad, in of itself, it can just lead to truly bad addictions that are way harder to break. (And, making it illegal only does so much when people were getting it ILLegaly before. Just sayin')

@Hesperus D

I suppose you're right, but it also depends on what court you take them to. There are plenty of corrupt judges who probably wouldn't do anything about it.


I also held that opinion for a while. I changed my mind later because of stuff like immigration and (like you said) the unreasonably high opinion that children (and many adults) have that humanity is inherently good and responsible. I'm not really sure now. I think it's used in pain meds, so it can be useful, but at the same time, it's addictive.
I dunno. I'm torn between my two convictions that 1) the government should not be restricting what people sell and 2) drugs should not be sold.


I think the problem is, is that it is addictive, and people don't take the responsibility to know what to stop. Like Addie said it may be in some medicines, but people need to take the responsibility and will power to stop taking it. I think it is just a matter or self-control. We are all human and we all struggle with it. I can understand.

@Asher E

True. : (

@ Hersperus & KN

Yes you are right. even if it was illegal people would still sell it. My dad didnt live in the suburb but he was poor and lived in a very run down house.

One Ring! [and 37834793529787845th comment].

3 Rings for the Elven Lords under the sky,
7 for the Dwarf-Lords in their halls of stone,
9 for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the land of Mordor where the shadow lies,
One Ring to rule them all, one Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them,
In the land of Mordor where the shadow lies.

@Asher E

I would probably do the same thing.

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