As more than 22 wildfires in California continue to be fueled by high winds, firefighters battle to keep them contained.
Primarily located in Northern California, the wildfires have already claimed over 190,000 acres, an area the size of New York City, with no sign of slowing.
The fires have already killed more than 20 people with hundreds more still missing.
Emerald Triangle Pot Businesses Go Up In Smoke
The Emerald Triangle, aka the Napa Valley of Weed, is known for its high concentration of marijuana farms spread across Mendocino County, Humboldt County, and Trinity County.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on Monday in eight counties as the wildfires continued to ravage Northern California, Mendocino County among others such as Napa County and Sonoma County.
The area hosts many of California’s 15,000+ marijuana farms. While it is still too early to tell to what extent the damage will be, there are farms already lost and more burning in southern Mendocino County.
With California set to begin legal recreational sales of marijuana in January 2018, the devastation to these business owners is only intensified. Many of these businesses have invested millions in preparation, staking their entire life savings into the start up costs, in addition to obtaining the permits and licenses to comply with state and local regulations.
While the referendum for the legal recreational marijuana was passed in California in the 2016 elections, cannabis still remains a Schedule I Drug and federally illegal.
That same federal law prohibits marijuana business owners from obtaining insurance, which would be almost certain to ruin those affected by the wildfire.
Among those most affected are the dispensary owners and ancillary businesses located in Santa Rosa, which has been hardest hit by the fires. The fire have already destroyed over 1,500 structures in the area and have forced dispensary owners to shut down and evacuate.
Massive traffic jams across the region due to evacuations have left those dispensaries brave, or fortunate, enough to stay open with operations predictably slower than usual.
“It’s been a fricken nightmare. It’s been a bottleneck everywhere,” he said. “Some people came in looking to get their medicine, and it was very, very slow.” said Kevin Zimmin of Natural Cannabis Company, according to Vice.
The legal recreational market is expected to top $5 Billion in California alone. The wildfires are sure to cause financial ruin for many of those impacted by the disaster, but could spell opportunity for others as dispensaries and manufacturers are forced to look for alternate suppliers.
Concentrates and Edibles are the fastest growing segment of the consumable market, with growth expected to explode as more mainstream consumers enter the market looking to more convenient and healthier alternatives, such as vaporizers.
While it’s likely to cause several millions of dollars in damages and lost crops in the marijuana industry, it isn’t expected to have a major impact on the supply come January.
Hezekiah Allen from the California Grower’s Association was confident that it wouldn’t “affect things down the supply chain” due to an “abundance of supply” in California, though we may want to prepare for the next harvest with names like “campfire pot,” “hickory kush,” and “beef jerky” according to Vice.