DEA Agent: Marijuana Cultivation Could Lead to “Stoned Rabbits” Unafraid of Humans

   04.06.15

If you live in a state where back-country marijuana is becoming big business, it may mean that rabbit hunting got a whole lot easier. Last month, DEA special agent Matt Fairbanks gave testimony to a Utah state Senate panel arguing against a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in the state. One of the reasons Fairbanks gave was that wildlife, specifically rabbits, will take advantage of marijuana operations as an easy source of food and lose their fear of humans. In his testimony, the agent recounted a situation where a rabbit showed signs of intoxication.

“Rabbits that had cultivated a taste for the marijuana… one of them refused to leave us, and we took all the marijuana around him, but his natural instincts to run were somehow gone,” Fairbanks was quoted by the Washington Post.

The agent also argued that large-scale marijuana cultivation is costly to the environment and can introduce harmful pesticides and chemicals.

“I deal in facts. I deal in science,” Fairbanks added.

It is true that marijuana cultivation—especially illegal operations—can cause widespread environmental damage. In states like California, where the practice is not only lucrative but common, illegal farms can leave thousands of pounds of trash, fertilizer, and toxic waste in the wilderness where it can poison animals and contaminate water. Perhaps even more pressing for a state suffering from the effects of drought, marijuana operations can steal precious water away from streams, condemning vulnerable fish like salmon and steelhead trout to a slow death.

Supporters of the Utah medical marijuana bill however, pointed out that the bill required the plants to be grown indoors. Some, such as Jeremy Roberts, president of the company Medical Cannabis Payment Solutions, said that the DEA agent’s remarks amounted to little more than hyperbole.

“I was kind of shocked to find out the killer rabbit of Caerbannog from Monty Python and the Holy Grail is actually in the Utah mountains,” Roberts told The Guardian jokingly.

Yet on March 9, the Utah state Senate voted 15-14 to defeat the medical marijuana bill. It seems that for now, there will be no roving packs of cannabis-loving rabbits in Utah.

How are wildlife affected by marijuana? What about larger animals like deer? Read our story about Sugar Bob, a deer who has developed a taste for marijuana, here.

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