With wildfire season in full swing in the United States, devastating burns have ravaged the cannabis industry on the West Coast. Over 20% of licensed cannabis businesses in the state of Oregon have received evacuation orders along with a large portion of the ‘Emerald Triangle’—a cannabis-fertile area in Northern California.
As harsh climate patterns continue to disrupt the cannabis industry across the U.S in 2020, harvest patterns are more uncertain than ever before. Farmers on the west coast have had to weigh early harvest, which heightens risk of microbial contamination, against waiting the fires out, which could lead to a distinctly smoky taste in the bud.
While it is extremely difficult to predict the full magnitude of effect of the wildfires, total losses for the cannabis industry are sure to reach tens of millions of dollars. With many fires still burning in states like California and Oregon, it remains to be seen which farms might be further affected.
The effects are likely to ripple into the supply chain in the coming months, making recovery a process that will last through the winter. Experts predict that many harvests will be lost or contaminated due to smoke and other complications.
Additionally, there are concerns that the ongoing fires may drive small farmers and industry workers out of the industry altogether. Ultimately, the effects of the crisis will likely consolidate wealth to bigger companies and reduce who is able to participate in the market.
Cannabis consultant and farmer in Mendocino County, California David Najera told Marijuana Business Daily that going forward, cannabis farmers will have to treat wildfires as a “new normal.” He suggested that farms in high-risk areas will have to start factoring in the dangers of wildfires on an annual basis, and put additional measures in place to prepare.
While the west coast is a great place to grow cannabis, the threat of wildfires appears to be a consistent threat going forward. Cannabis companies will have to evaluate risks, benefits, and dangers of growing in the volatile region.