Wildfires on the west coast continue to have an absolutely devastating impact on resident homes and businesses across a very large area, with reports showing damage as far as Washington and California.
Officials reported that close to one million acres have already been burned and that there are multiple fires active in different parts of the state. We have been focusing on the biggest one out of all of them, the Almeda fire, which started on September 8th and raged for nearly an entire month.
According to the latest announcement from state regulators, seven cannabis businesses reported total losses, five of which came from one single county (Jackson).
What is now known as the Almeda fire, has been raging in Jackson County and has done the most damage out of any of the current blazes. In fact, it is now being considered one of the 10 most devastating fires in the last half century.
John Vial, who is the director of the Jackson County emergency operations center told reporters that residents had no time to evacuate and were literally being ripped out of their homes by firefighters, who were using every trick at their disposal to keep the fire at bay long enough for the evacuations.
As of today, more than 2,357 homes have been burned to the ground.
Businesses that have been reported as a 'total loss': EcoTest Labs in Phoenix, Emerald Consulting in Medford, as well as retailers Fireside Dispensary and Grateful Meds also both located in Phoenix.
Almeda Fire - Oregon
South Obenchain Fire
This fire was first reported on September 8th and was believed to have started near Eagle Point.
Located northeast of Medford, this fire has burned 32,671 acres, close to 90 homes and outbuildings, and has already destroyed one full-scale grow operation called Primo Farms.
What's Next For Cannabis Companies?
Some companies are coming to terms with the fact that they completely lost their businesses, livelihoods and in some cases their homes.
If it isn't bad enough that people are suffering from this devastating fall fire season, it could get a lot worse for those residents who are owners in the cannabis industry.
Due to the fact that growing, processing and selling cannabis are still considered federally illegal activities, insurance companies are not required, and as a result, do not cover losses for those businesses. What does that mean? Well, for starters, a significant portion of the supply chain in Oregon has been disrupted and the true impact is not known at this point and probably won't be known until March or April of 2021.
For those businesses that have been lucky enough to survive, a damage assessment must be done to determine the viability of the crops that remain.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the process of growing cannabis outdoors, the biggest time of the year is considered now. Fall is when outdoor crops are harvested and obviously this year is going to be much different than last.
Despite the fact that there are a bunch of farms still in operation, the smoke from the fires can taint the product while it is still in the ground and flowering.
This wouldn't be the first time cannabis retained a "smoke" or "burned" smell or taste as a result of wildfires during fall harvest. The last two years have produced significant fires in northern California, and many farms had smoke tainted cannabis.
I expect to see smoke "fire" flavored cannabis make its way on to the market before the end of the year, but hopefully it won't be anything that I am consuming.
Currently, the cannabis industry has been working together to help those most impacted by the fires. Hopefully, once the fires have been completely extinguished, and the dust has settled, the hard working people of Oregon can get back to business and continue producing the super high quality products we have come to know, love and depend on over the last five years.