Dozens of cannabis farms have been destroyed by the California wildfires just weeks before the state’s legal recreational marijuana market goes live. A whooping thirty-four farms were destroyed as of Friday, as reported to Hezekiah Allen, who is the executive director of the California Growers Association.
However, he revealed that the number is most likely expected to increase. “Unfortunately, it will grow significantly,” Allen said. He’s working to confirm additional reports of burned farms by making phone contact with the farmers. “Just the scale of this event is kind of numbing.”
The main threat emanates from the fires that began sweeping across the state earlier this month since they are the considered to be the most destructive in California’s history. Cal Fire, which is the state’s firefighting department revealed that the fires have burned 245,000 acres, destroyed 7,700 structures and killed 42 people.
The situation has been reported by the web site of the Sonoma County Growers Alliance to be very critical in Sonoma County, where 30 pot farms and three pot manufacturers lost everything to the blazes. The alliance also revealed that none of those businesses are insured.
Sonoma County has a record number of 25 farms that have been destroyed as reported by Allen, the number is included in his statewide tally as He tries to reach the remaining five. He revealed that the farmers are “thankful to be alive,” but the devastation is “heartbreaking,” since they are not insured.
Allen acknowledged that the fires happened in a uniquely bad timing. He was referring to the California’s legal recreational marijuana market that is slated to launch on January 1, and hundreds of dispensaries and stores will need stock on their shelves.
He also revealed that many farmers have used their savings to apply for state permits, which costs as much as $50,000. The Federal law prohibits banks and financial institutions from participating in the marijuana industry, even in the eight states where recreational pot is legal.
Federal prohibition makes it difficult for cannabis farmers to get insurance. “The road to recovery is going to be long,” said Allen, a former cannabis farmer who sold his ranch in 2012. “We live harvest to harvest so we’re looking at how we get people to the next harvest. Right now, our immediate goal is making sure folks have what they need to get those seeds in the ground.”
However, its highly unlikely that the fires will make much of a dent in marijuana supply, despite the devastation, because there are so many farms. There are more than 50,000 pot farms in California, and as many as 15,000 in Sonoma County.
Voters approved recreational marijuana last year and it has been legal in California since 1996. Cal Fire said that 10,000 firefighters were still battling nine large wildfires and about 15,000 people are still evacuated, although significant progress is being made