Marijuana Businesses Feeling Heat from California Wildfires

Wildfires raging in California are devastating lives and promise to have major effects on marijuana businesses marijuana businessthroughout the state. Many are saying the rampant fires are some of the worst in the state’s history, and are particularly devastating considering it was just last year that 1.3 million acres were annihilated by fires. An article from Rolling Stone is reporting so far there are 16 major fires tearing mostly through Northern California, with more than 14,000 firefighters battling the blazes. Northern California, of course, is a region replete with cannabis farms, making these fires particularly devastating to the state’s recreational marijuana industry, still in its first year.

Two of the blazes, which combined are dubbed the Mendocino Complex Fire, are at the heart of cannabis country. The Mendocino Complex Fire has already been declared the largest in California’s history. The previous record was set just last year, and at that time it was estimated 30 to 40 percent of the cannabis growers in the state were affected by the wildfires. It is unknown how a second round of fires will impact the industry, but it certainly is not positive. Within the last few weeks, More than 283,000 acres have been destroyed, including at least five greenhouses and countless outdoor crops. To the northwest the Carr Fire has taken out more than 173,000 acres, including several buildings belonging to one of the leading growers in the state.The fires come on the heels of stringent regulations under Proposition 64 going into effect July 1. The new testing and labeling requirements have already created a shortage of product in dispensaries statewide, with some growers simply unable to meet pesticide safety standards. Other problems include immense bottlenecking of product at the limited available testing facilities and companies unable to bear the burden of costs associated with re-packaging and testing.

California’s wildfires can be added to a long list of reasons it is so crucial marijuana be legalized at the federal level, or at the very least be reclassified below its current status as a Schedule I narcotic under Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. Section 812. When natural disasters strike, whether it be fires in California, hurricanes in Florida, or flooding in the Midwest, we can rely on other states to support industries damaged as a result. However, the federal ban prevents interstate commerce in relation to the cannabis industry. So if California’s crop takes a hit, those in the marijuana business have no backup plan. Farmers also have extremely limited options when it comes to insurance, with most companies not willing to consider coverage, making these farms much more vulnerable than those that cultivate other types of crops.

Any disruption to one’s business can upset the balance owners have worked so hard to maintain. But major calamities can have much broader ramifications. It’s one of the many reasons we encourage business owners to seek guidance from our experienced marijuana business lawyers in Riverside when establishing their business and to take advantage of our consulting services as your business continues to grow. Our attorneys have both the business-savvy and deep understanding of cannabis laws and regulations that will help fortify your business with a strong foundation, making it more agile and prepared for unwanted surprises.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients, defendants, workers and those facing criminal marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

Marijuana Grows Destroyed By California Wildfires — But It’s Unclear How Many, Aug. 8, 2018, By Nadine Sebai, Capital Public Radio

More Blog Entries:

How California Marijuana Growers Are Rebuilding Their Businesses After Devastating Wildfires, Oct. 21, 2017, Cannabis Law Group