Wildfires Threaten California Cannabis Crops

Wildfires in California are threatening to destroy the state’s massive cannabis crops, with the state’s agricultural agency warning that losses could reach up to $500 million, according to Reuters. The threat to the state’s massive crop, which includes the Siskiyou and Mendocino Counties, will cause a shortage of marijuana for at least the next few months, and may even lead to a shortage for the entire year.

Wild fires are the most recent danger to crop plants that are grown for the purpose of recreational or medicinal use. The associated risks are not just from the potential of the fire to damage or destroy the crop, but also the smoke and pollen that can spread the weed smoke, mold, and other contaminants into the air that is breathed by anyone in the area.

California’s wildfires are a growing problem, and rising temperatures from climate change are making them worse. In a recent article in The Guardian, it was noted that the combination of extreme summer heat and extreme drought – the perfect conditions for wildfires – is enough to affect the state’s cannabis industry. It is estimated that more than 50% of California’s cannabis is grown in the state’s southern region, which is close to the forests and mountains that are the source of California’s wildfire threat.

The ever-increasing threat of wildfires is affecting a large network of California cannabis growers, causing unrest in the northern part of the state and leaving some cannabis growers worried about their harvests.

The so-called lava fire had grown to more than 17,000 acres Wednesday in Northern California, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Earlier in the week, the fire had already taken over 13,000 acres. The fire reportedly started late last week when lightning struck a tree, and now the blaze is ongoing.

The situation for firefighters was made more difficult by the California summer weather. Strong gusts of wind have spread the flames of the wildfire, and the hot, dry conditions have made the situation worse in this dry climate. California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office announced Tuesday that the state has received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist in firefighting efforts to ensure vital resources are available to extinguish the Lava Fire in Siskiyou County.

That led to a tense situation near Weed, where local cannabis growers accused local officials and firefighters of letting the lava fire rage through their properties in the Mount Shasta Vista area Monday without bothering to put it out by not allowing them to bring their water trucks to fight the fire themselves, The Sacramento Bee reported.

The newspaper reported Wednesday that authorities deny the allegations, saying marijuana growers blocked roads, threw rocks and forced the Cal Fire crew to retreat.

Forest fires are increasing

Tempers ran high Monday when four police officers shot and killed a man who allegedly opened fire on them as they tried to stop a vehicle at the entrance to a large cannabis grow complex that was being cleared, The Sacramento Bee reported.

It is claimed that many farmers are of Hmnoog and Chinese descent. The man shot by police on Monday was apparently a Hmong.

Farmers say the lack of support from firefighters is the latest act of racism against them by Siskiyou County officials, who have been cracking down on illegal cannabis cultivation that has grown tremendously on private land in the Big Springs area of far northern California for more than a year, reports The Sacramento Bee.

The fireman is only on duty today. They did nothing yesterday, one of the farmers, Michael Tao, told the newspaper. They’re trying to get us out.

Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue denied the comments in an interview with the Sacramento Bee newspaper.

Over the past few days, we’ve seen water trucks from farmers block the roads, preventing Cal Fire from getting through to fight the fire, LaRue said. Stones were thrown at the firemen. Monday night we received calls from Cal Fire and other firefighters reporting that people were standing by their vehicles, stopping them, being aggressive and yelling at them. Cal Fire did not feel safe and retreated to safety and contacted police.

In addition to the Lava Fire, two other small area fires are being fought in California: the Tennant Fire and the Beswick Fire.

This is a sad reality for those involved in the thriving marijuana industry on the West Coast. Last year’s devastating wildfire season in the region forced the evacuation of about 20 percent of Oregon’s licensed cannabis businesses.

The Oregonian newspaper reported at the time that 73 marijuana growers, most of them outdoors, were ordered to evacuate. Tragically, the wildfire season continues to be devastating for cannabis businesses on the West Coast.

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