The Northern California wildfires have burned over 170,000 acres, and killed at least 31 people. Of the many people and businesses affected by the fires, cannabis growers are especially taking a huge hit.
The Cannabis Growers Affected
Sonoma County is experiencing the most severe fires among the affected regions. It is estimated that there are between 3,000 to 7,000 marijuana farms in Sonoma County. Among the dozens, if not hundreds, of cannabis farms already completely burned, the farms surrounding the fires are at a severe loss as well.
Cannabis is subject to airborne contamination, meaning that buds exposed to the smoke are also exposed to the toxins. Unless a grower has a completely air sealed building with zero smoke entering, contamination is almost certain.
Beyond The Land- Why Cannabis Growers Are Facing Serious Damage
Cannabis growers have put down copious amount of liquid cash just to be operating legally today. This involves the high costs of permit fees, property compliance, environmental compliance, and more. The bottom line is that being a cannabis grower takes a lot of initial capital to operate.
Unfortunately, unlike other industries, the cannabis industry does not have access to insurance, or even banking- it’s a cash industry. This is due to federal laws still classifying cannabis as a schedule 1 drug, making banks and insurers unwilling to work with ‘high risk industries.’ The implications of no insurance or banking for these farmers is devastating. They have no way to recoup the cost of the fires devouring their fields and equipment. Many cannabis growers lost their entire life savings in these fires that have yet to be contained.
Implications For The Cannabis Community
Beyond the devastating knock out cannabis growers are taking, these wildfires affect the cannabis community as a whole. Northern California is to cannabis as France is to the wine industry. There are dozens of businesses that rely on the production of their Northern California partners. This means potential supply shortages, price hikes and an unknown recovery period for some. Others will be forced out of business.
What You Can Do To Help Cannabis Cultivators Affected By The Wildfires
This industry is only as strong as the people in it. Now more than ever, it’s time to come together as an industry, as the California wildfires are affecting the cannabis community. To help the cannabis growers during this severe hardship, please consider donating to CalGrowers Wildfire Recovery Fund.
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Severe wildfires have taken lives, destroyed homes and businesses, and continue to threaten communities throughout our state. Eventually the smoke will clear and we can begin to assess the damage. For now, we can confirm that several growers have been among those in the community impacted by the dual loss of home and livelihood. The opportunity of legal cannabis is in ashes for many longtime California growers and their communities. Over the course of the last 18 months, these growers have spent their life savings getting permits and preparing for state licenses. Recovery will be especially difficult because cannabis is a dramatically under-insured crop, growers can’t get loans and won’t qualify for federal recovery funds. For these reasons we have launched this wildfire recovery fund. 100% of donations will be used for fire disaster relief and recovery.