Wildfires Are Threatening California's Most Fire Weed Cultivators

Emerald Triangle growers are evacuating the area en masse, leaving millions of dollars in unharvested crops behind.

Over the years, California has gained international acclaim for the fire (re: high quality) cannabis cultivated by Golden State weed farmers. Specifically, the northern region of the state known as the Emerald Triangle–-a geographic triangle where Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties converge––grows some of the best cannabis on the planet. Sadly, wildfires currently threaten many marijuana farms in the region along with everything else in their paths.

“There are a lot of growers out there. Through the course of yesterday, three members have lost their homes and farms, and several more in the broader community,” Hezekiah Allen, who heads the California Growers Association, told VICE. “This is going to be a pretty significant catastrophe.”

Though Allen doesn’t see the fires as threatening the state’s supply of fire product at the consumer end of the chain.

“I don’t think this is going to affect things down the supply chain,” Allen told VICE. “We’ve got an abundance of supply here. Even if a lot of folks lose their crops, there’s plenty of extra pounds being grown.”

Similarly, fires in Napa and Sonoma counties––the latter of which is reportedly home to anywhere between 3,000 and 9,000 cannabis farms––have led Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, more than two dozen member farms of Allen’s CGA have been destroyed by the flames. And it’s not like weed farms are covered by property insurance in the same way a winery or grape growing collective may be.

The weed that remains when the fires are finally quelled could potentially face a massive decline in value.

“A lot of cannabis will be tainted with smoke. It is pretty easy to identify smoky bud by the smell. It will lose a lot of value,” Allen told the East Bay Express. “Contaminated products may be able to be remediated in the manufacturing process.”

The fires come just before state regulators are set to release the rules and framework of the newly legal marketplace. This could potentially price even more farms out of existence or have those that remain tossing out crops that don’t meet the state’s reportedly rigorous testing standards.