Beatrice Murch

Fires Engulf Cannabis Farms in California’s Emerald Triangle

Several cannabis farms in Mendocino County, California have fallen victim to wildfires, which have grown increasingly severe throughout the state in recent years.

Mendocino County is one of three counties that comprise the state’s famed Emerald Triangle, which is known worldwide as a leader in cannabis production. The region also includes Humboldt and Trinity counties, but they have not been as affected by the fires.

While the fires spell danger and misfortune for the entire state — there are 22 active wildfires throughout the state and at least 23 people have died so far while hundreds more have been declared missing — they are particularly dangerous toward cannabis crops, which will both easily burn and cannot be insured due to the plant’s federally illegal status.

“If their facilities burn down, a lot of these people won’t be able to get any economic relief for them from an insurance claim,” Derek Peterson, CEO of cannabis producer Terra Tech, said in a CNN Money report. “There’s no mechanism for recovery to repay them for their loss. It’s a tremendous risk for these people.”

Nikki Larestro, secretary of the Mendocino Cannabis Industry Association and co-founder of cultivator Swami Select, said that she personally knows growers who have already lost their crops. “A lot of plants have been lost in the fire, especially in Sonoma County. In southern Mendocino County, there are farms burning right now,” she said in the report.

With emergency responders and firefighters doing their part to keep people safe and contain fire damage, members of the cannabis community are also doing their part to protect the livelihoods of local growers. Cannabis grower Kevin Jodrey of the Wonderland Nursery announced on Facebook that any grower who was concerned about losing their cannabis genetics to the blazes could store their strains free-of-charge at the nursery.

His post has drummed up an outpouring of support and has been shared online more than a hundred times:

“If you’re a grower in Sonoma or Mendo and fear losing your genes to the fires I can bank the stock at my nursery. You can come get it when it’s safe. I’ve done this for years for Humboldt farmers fighting camp raids. I’ll do it for you too. Nobody will steal your [stuff] nor do you have to pay me. Stay safe.”

Jodrey could not be reached for comment by the time of this article’s publishing.

Governor Jerry Brown (D) has declared a state of emergency in eight of the state’s counties. The wildfires, though abnormally destructive this year, should not take a big toll on California‘s legal cannabis market when it launches in January — there are simply too many other cannabis producers in the state — but could spell financial doom for the affected growers.

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