How recreational drug use contributes to environmental damage

From deforestation to energy consumption, cocaine and other drugs come at a high price

Lighting, ventilation and air conditioning systems in indoor cannabis grow houses require huge amounts of energy. Photograph: iStock

Lighting, ventilation and air conditioning systems in indoor cannabis grow houses require huge amounts of energy. Photograph: iStock

The environmental impact of drug use is obvious in many parts of Ireland. Used needles and crack pipes are common sights on some city streets, while discarded nitrous oxide canisters have started to become a litter headache for local authorities. That is just the illegal drugs, with discarded cigarette butts and alcohol containers an even bigger problem in most areas.

However, these issues are dwarfed by the impact of the drug trade further up the production chain. There are many moral arguments against taking illegal drugs, but one that is rarely discussed is the devastating impact their production has on environments and vulnerable communities around the world, particularly in South America and central Asia.

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