With fires still raging in Northern California, cannabis farmers in the region—who were in the midst of harvesting season—are suffering huge losses. Northern counties are big contributors to the state’s burgeoning marijuana industry—according the San Francisco Chronicle, there are 3,000 to 9,000 cannabis gardens in Sonoma County alone. “This is going to leave a deep scar,” said Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association.
Revenue losses are likely to be in the millions of dollars. This devastation comes at an already difficult time for the cannabis industry: Many businesses invested thousands of dollars in warehouse space to obtain licensing under Proposition 64. In just hours, these warehouses went up in smoke.
To make matters worse, most cannabis farmers can’t obtain standard crop or fire insurance—and coverage that’s available is expensive and offers minimal protections. Moreover, crops exposed to fire tend to develop an undesirable smoky flavor; they’re also more susceptible to disease from insects and fungi. Industry reps say they won’t know the extent of the damage until the close of the growing season, which is the end of October.
“Folks are out their entire life savings. … There’s no crop insurance, there’s no FEMA aid coming to our growers. It’s a pretty extreme situation out here,” said Allen in an interview with the Chronicle.
With cannabis still illegal at the federal level, community support is the key to recovery for farmers. Allen has started a crowdfunding relief effort to help affected marijuana growers recuperate by next spring.
In the meantime, many organizations are calling for volunteers to help with overall relief efforts. Donations are also welcome, although check-in first to see what’s needed. HelloMD has already donated $1,000 to Kentfield PTA via backpacks containing personal care and comfort items for children affected by the fire.
If you can spare the time and funds, here’s a list of some centers and organizations who are helping evacuees—they can really use your help.
- CA Growers Association
- CannaFam Support Fund
- Bay Area Red Cross is looking for volunteers.
- Veterans Memorial Building and Hall in Santa Rosa is hosting evacuees.
- Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership in San Rafael is looking for volunteers and donations.
- Napa Valley Community Foundation is taking donations.
For a more comprehensive list, check out 7×7’s article featuring ongoing relief and recovery efforts in Northern California.