Pot farms go through another year of fire and smoke
The cannabis community faces the fire season as growers and dispensaries strive to support their communities through another difficult year.
In this weirdly evil side story, California’s legal cannabis industry has grown alongside ever-more violent fire seasons that see records broken almost every year. While recent hurricane news cycles have spoken of century-old flooding occurring more often, so has the intensity of the fire season in recent years.
The most affected industry sectors so far have been growers and other businesses along the Sierra Nevada Corridor and the northeast section of the Emerald Triangle. All of these regions have also seen many obstacles for growers attempting to transition to the legal market in recent years. So the possibility of a lost crop could be a devastating compounding problem besides making up for expenses incurred to open not so long ago.
Last night, Cal Fire noted that 15,500 people are currently fighting 14 large active wildfires. Their efforts include 853 engines, 293 crews, 357 bulldozers, 404 watertenders and 109 helicopters.
Approaching one million acres, the 922,129 acre Dixie Fire has had a major impact on farmers in the northern Sierra. Shasta and Butte are the two most cannabis-rich counties of the five affected, however, the entire region is teeming with growers who serve both regulated and mainstream markets.
The biggest fire to affect the Emerald Triangle this year was the monument fire which has burned 189,366 acres since the evening of July 30 and is currently 41% under control. It burned exclusively in the heart of northern Trinity County while the McFarland fire in the south burned in Shasta, Trinity and Tehama counties. The McFarland fire spans 122,653 acres and is 93% contained. More minor incidents also occurred in Humboldt. The Knob Fire has been burning there for a week; it is currently at 2,421 acres and 91% content.
For growers who wanted to live a little closer to Lake Tahoe when setting up, the Caldor fire was devastating. 217,569 acres have burned southwest of Lake Tahoe in the past month.
Cody Bass sits on South Lake Tahoe City Council and founded the area’s original dispensary, the Tahoe Wellness Center. Bass pointed out how grateful a community that was unsure of returning home is to the firefighters who made this happen.
Bass felt his dispensary was the first business to reopen in town after the evacuation order was lifted.
“We opened three days ago, we were actually the first,” Bass said. LA Weekly, “We were open before the grocery store; we opened the morning they lifted it.
He said the most notable consequence so far, as life gets closer to normal, is the wider appreciation for the city and the community itself.
“Big smiles and people are incredibly grateful to be able to come home, but of course you know like a lot of people, I think, left town thinking they might never come back. So there is a lot of grateful energy in people who are really, really grateful for the firefighters and the efforts to put out the fire or to deflect the fire in South Lake Tahoe. “
Bass said in his youth that he never thought the Tahoe area would be in danger of being completely destroyed.
“I mean, but the reality is when you watch Paradise or Santa Rosa, or what we’ve seen over the last couple of years, that’s a possibility,” Bass said. He underlined the hopes for better forest management, but climate change is certainly a factor in intensifying things,
The industry’s hardest hit fires account for more than half of the 2 million acres that have burned in California this year. And while the numbers may already seem huge, the imprint of those who have shot cannabis is much more widespread.
In terms of devastation, the area burned does not account for the smoke coming through the hills and sticking to the resin on plants near full term as they finish before the final harvest. The terps are ruined forever and the hills of California are strewn with tales of people who have been unable to sell their harvest in recent years due to the smoky harvest.
Part of the material can be corrected in extracts. But 99% of the time, they will end up smelling like a strange chemical lime thing. And this year more than ever there will be less need to deal with damaged material as so many people worked harder in the first round of light deposits.
But despite the challenges, farmers are still preparing for the next harvest and are ready to step up on gas in the weeks to come. As larger communities supported by the cannabis growing there try to prepare, they know lightning or a change in the wind could dictate their economic situation for the next year.
Good luck to everyone in the north in the weeks to come before the first rains arrive and stay safe.