cannabis fire California
cannabis fire California

Wildfires Leave $1 Billion In Damages For Cannabis Farms

Around 600,000 Pounds of Cannabis Was Destroyed In Fires

Posted by:
DanaSmith on Wednesday Oct 18, 2017

Wildfires Leave $1 Billion In Damages For Cannabis Farms



2017 may just be the worst year on record for cannabis growers in Northern California. The Golden State is facing its worst nightmare – over $1 billion in cannabis crops gone due to the wildfires affecting Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino; ground zero for some of the biggest cannabis farms in California.


Hezekiah Allen, Executive Director of the California Growers Association, told the LA Times: “The October 2017 firestorm is having an extremely severe impact on our communities.” He adds, “It is the worst year on record, and the worst year I can remember, in terms of farms lost.” According to Allen, 7 cannabis farms burned down last week although he expects this number to increase as the days go by.


In a San Francisco Chronicle feature, there are 3,000 to 9,000 cannabis farms in Sonoma County alone. The revenues are unknown but estimated to be around several hundred million dollars each year. “We have a lot of people who have lost their farms in the last 36 hours, and their homes,” says Tawnie Logan of the Sonoma County Growers Alliance. According to Logan, cannabis farmers are in the losing end because they can’t obtain fire or crop insurance unlike wineries. Insurance coverage for cannabis grows are limited, and the plans available are sparse at best while being outrageously expensive.


Logan cites the case of a $2 million crop located in Santa Rosa which was burned to the ground on Sunday night. “There’s no way for them to recover the millions in anticipated revenue they just lost,” she says. “It’s gone. It’s ashes.”


Ben Bradley, operations director of the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA), also reports that dozens of their members have lost their crops as well as their homes. The impact of the fires are devastating, considering that people working in the industry have also lost their savings. “I know we definitely have multiple members that have lost their homes and have lost their savings,” says Josh Drayton, who heads communications for the CCIA.


SPARC, one of San Francisco’s most prominent dispensaries, wasn’t spared. They were about ready to harvest on Tuesday, but by early Monday morning the farm was majorly damaged by the Nuns Fire, says director Erich Pearson. “The whole thing was on fire,” he says. By Wednesday, Pearson said, “There’s no fuel left. You see a stump burning and there’s nothing around it, so we leave it.”


Reports also state that the Sonoma County Cannabis Company sustained serious losses. “There are no words right now to describe the loss, the heartbreak, and the trauma that our beloved home and community is going through,” the company said on its Instagram account. “We are trying to save what we can.” CannaCraft, a major player in the Santa Rosa cannabis industry, shut down business on Monday and reopened the next day, with just a few out of their 110 employees working despite what spokesperson Kial Long describes as “awful” air quality. Although nobody was hurt, the damages have sent tremors felt by all throughout the company. “We have no employees that were not impacted in some way or another,” Long says. “A lot of family, a lot of friends and a few employees did lose their homes.”


To help employees survive this catastrophe, CannaCraft will be donating $40,000 worth of medicines to affected patients, and donate a part of their sales to Red Cross relief projects in the area. They are also offering their Santa Rosa grounds to serve as an evacuation center this weekend.


Damage To Crops


The wildfires came at the worst possible time, as the plants bloom at the height of fire season. Cannabis farmers have already started to cut over the last few weeks, but “there was a lot of stuff that’s still heavy on the bush and our 8-12 week strains just getting ready to be harvested –that is tremendous loss,” Logan says. “Especially when it’s ripe – I can tell you from personal experience, wildfire definitely will make your cannabis have a smoky flavor to it; just like wine,” says International Cannabis Farmers Association executive director Kristin Nevedal.


California farmers reportedly started harvesting their crops in a frenzy, amidst panic as some tried to transport freshly cut flowers out of the affected areas. Fine ash spread throughout the Bay Area city and affected air quality even in Santa Cruz.


Cannabis that’s been exposed to the smoke take on its smell. They are also at greater risk of disease that could lead to the growth of harmful fungus, mold, and mildew. There’s no way to know the exact impact of the smoke damage until after October, which is harvest season, says Nevedal.



California Cannabis Is A Cash Crop


California is the biggest domestic producer of cannabis in the country, responsible for 13 million pounds of herb each year. Northern California specifically is home to the biggest concentration of cannabis farms in the world, located in Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino counties. One acre of cannabis is valued at $1.7 million in Sonoma County, says Allen.


“It’s located right there between three counties where so much of our product comes from, and its proximity to the Bay Area makes it a huge marketplace, with a lot of processing and manufacturing; just a huge industrial leader in general.”


Logal says that Santa Rosa is the epicenter of the modern legal cannabis industry in all of California, and compares the damage there to the same thing that would happen in the tech industry if fires hit Silicon Valley.










What did you think?

ganja leaf left  Keep reading... click here  ganja leaft right

Please log-in or register to post a comment.

Leave a Comment: