California’s pot farms up in smoke in wildfires

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on October 18, 2017.

Right before California begins the sale of recreational marijuana legally, fires have destroyed a number of farms in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties.

The federal law prohibits marijuana and hence the cannabis cultivators can’t insure their crop. The cultivators have incurred financial losses not only in the harvest –ready crops but also the infrastructural investments.

“Nobody right now has insurance. They might have insurance on their house, but not on their crop,” said Nikki Lastreto, Secretary of the Mendocino Cannabis Industry Association.

Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, said it was difficult to assess the damage done to the production, as a lot of evacuees are yet to return to their farms.

As per an estimate, farmers typically invest around $5 million for facilities and $3 million for growing the crops, which is a life time savings for most of the small growers.

Stating that the devastation is going to be ‘larger than anybody would hope it to be,’ Josh Drayton, Spokesman for the California Cannabis Industry Association, has estimated around 10,000 to 15,000 marijuana farms of the State would have burned down in the fires.

The farms which were not in direct line to the flames have also been affected because of exposure to smoke and ash, which might contain potential contaminants.

The seasonal wildfires in California have killed over 30 people, while hundreds still remain missing. This is not the first time that cannabis farms have gone up in smoke as the wildfires have become worse in recent years.

Marijuana is set to become legal from January 2018. The State had voted in November to legalize recreational marijuana. The law will allow adults to possess limited amounts of cannabis and grow up to six plants at home.

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