Where There's Smoke

The Environmental Science, Public Policy, and Politics of Marijuana

Char Miller

Over the course of a year, in just one national forest in California, raids on illegal marijuana growing operations yielded 19,710 pounds of infrastructure, 138 ounces of restricted poisons, 4,595 pounds of fertilizer, 12 gallons of common pesticides, 5.6 miles of waterlines, and 102 propane bottles. Even as efforts to legalize marijuana accelerate, such “trespass grows” spread exponentially—as does their effect on the environment. The nature of this impact on the land and in the political arena is the pressing issue addressed in Where There’s Smoke. This first-of-its-kind interdisciplinary anthology draws on the insights of scientists, researchers, and activists and ranges across the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences to explore the troubling environmental consequences of illegal marijuana production on public, private, and tribal lands.

Classified as a Schedule 1 drug, marijuana has been a central focus of the so-called War on Drugs—with the perverse result of shifting marijuana production from Mexico to the United States and with unanticipated consequences for the natural environment. Where There’s Smoke assesses the broad spectrum of the policy’s effect on land and water, flora and fauna, as well as the firsthand challenges faced by those tasked with responding to this tangled and often dangerous state of affairs. In its broad scope, varied perspective, and depth of detail, the book will prove essential to an understanding of the complex social and environmental ramifications of marijuana policy and politics in the United States.

“Does much to advance the conversation around the important environmental questions surrounding [marijuana] production.

—Western Historical Quarterly

“An important foundation stone in the scholarly literature on cannabis.

—Hemperical Evidence
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About the Author

Char Miller is the W. M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis at Pomona College and the author and editor of many books on environmental history and public lands, including, as author, Not So Golden State: Sustainability vs. the California Dream; America’s Great National Forests, Wildernesses, and Grasslands (with photographer Tim Palmer); and Seeking the Greatest Good: The Conservation Legacy of Gifford Pinchot. He also edited American Forests: Nature, Culture, and Politics, published by Kansas.