How Do Drugs Affect the Environment & What Can We Do to Help?

Most people today are aware of the damaging effects of taking illegal drugs. However, there is increased awareness that drugs also have a damaging impact on the environment. Those attempting to include more sustainable elements in their lives are now asking how they can reduce environmental harm done by drugs. Here is information about this issue, and what you may be able to do to combat it:

Drug Use Causes Irresponsible Actions

It’s important to remember that the use of illegal drugs can cause actions that harm the environment. To curb any temptation we may have to use illegal drugs; we should remind ourselves of the physical and mental harm caused by those drugs. We should also remember that arrests for repeat offenses can result in penalties of 15 years in prison and fines, which may be as high as $50,000.

The Energy Impact of Cannabis

According to the German news website DW, the increasing legality of cannabis has made it one of the three most prevalent drugs worldwide. More people today have begun growing cannabis plants in greenhouses, which require an increased level of sunlight and power. The same news source reports that the impact of cannabis growth in the U.S. has already accounted for 1% of the nation’s energy use. The University of California, Davis, equates the annual usage of carbon dioxide emitted to grow marijuana to the annual emissions of 3 million cars.

The Use of Water by Cannabis Plants

In addition to its consumption of energy, growing cannabis also requires a considerable amount of water. To provide a basis for comparison, the amount of water consumed by cannabis is more than that of tomatoes or grapes. In California, the state that grows almost 3/4 of the cannabis in the country, up to six gallons of water per day per plant is required. This water use has lowered the water level in some of California’s waterways.

The Ecological Footprint of Cocaine

In Latin America, over 740,000,000 square miles have been cleared to grow coca since 2001. In addition to hijacking land that other crops could use, the production of cocaine requires the use of toxic chemicals that can ruin the water supply. Researchers at the University of Oregon have watched that total climb despite efforts by the Colombian government to eliminate the crop. Unfortunately, the chemicals used for elimination have also damaged neighboring farms.

Environmental Impact of Ketamine

According to the University of Utah, ketamine was first used by surgeons as an anesthetic in the 1960s. It has now become famous as a medication for pain relief or mental health issues. According to Epigram, ketamine use can be legally regulated by doctors. However, it’s frequently stolen (from veterinary offices or pain clinics), leading its thieves to irresponsible actions.

Chemical Waste From Party Drugs

Drugs like ecstasy or MDMA are often referred to as party drugs. Those who take them seek to lose their inhibitions. According to DW, for every kilo of ecstasy, there are 10 kilos of waste created. The Dutch government has been having increased problems with the amount of waste being dumped into the nation’s water supply.

Attempts to Reward Sustainability

With the growing awareness of measures that can be taken to increase the efforts taken to achieve sustainability, corporations are now being held accountable for their efforts. Many business encounters are influenced by the participant’s perceptions of the efforts made by the other company to achieve sustainability. There is now a non-profit agency that tracks sustainability efforts by various companies called the (SASB) Sustainability Accounting Standards Board. This group was founded in 2011 by an engineer.

There is no doubt that drugs are harmful to our bodies. As you can see, these drugs also negatively affect the environment. Knowing the negative impact those drugs are making on the environment may help us find additional reasons to avoid drug use.