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Just two months after the early October morning that saw thousands of Northern Californians wake up to hills engulfed in flame and widespread evacuation orders, a new set of wildfires is devastating Southern California, with at least four wildfires pushing across the greater Los Angeles area, spread further by the Santa Ana winds blowing from the nearby desert.
For California’s cannabis industry, simultaneously in the middle of a post-harvest sales rush and preparation for new recreational regulations that take effect January 1st, the new series of uncontrolled blazes carries significant fears, not only for scorched farms and smoke-damaged product, but for the community itself, as the SoCal fires have spread into more urban areas, burning homes, businesses, and entire neighborhoods.
“This year has been some of the highest highs and lowest lows, where we’ve made so much progress toward a legal, regulated, normal future,” Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, told Reuters. “But at the same time, we’ve had these catastrophic fires.”
Despite the continued damage, Allen pointed out that in Ventura County, where the fires have been most severe, commercial marijuana cultivation is banned, providing at least one piece of cannabis-specific good news in the sea of destruction.
Still, not all of the area’s cannabis is safe, with blazes in residential areas creating new dilemmas for growers not seen in October’s Sonoma County wildfires.
“These are fires burning in a more urban-type development, and that smoke is going to contain potential contaminants that are not typically in wildfire smoke,” Allen told Reuters.
While firefighters from across California focus on SoCal, the cannabis community in NorCal is continuing to come together for cultivators hit hardest by the October fires. According to Green State, this weekend’s Emerald Cup — the region’s largest annual cannabis celebration — will donate a portion of proceeds directly to farmers who lost their harvest in the fall fires.
After the October fires plowed through Santa Rosa and Saratoga earlier this year, a number of SoCal cannabis companies immediately contributed to NorCal relief efforts — an effort which will hopefully be reciprocated once first responders are able to corral the current blazes and begin rebuilding.
Our hearts are with your Southern California. Having just experienced a tragic fire, we know the devastation and we know the overwhelming need for community support. Thank you to the #Firefighters who have worked tirelessly and selflessly to protect lives, homes and businesses. You are all in our hearts and our prayers. We are ready to help in anyway that is needed. ✨🙏🏻✨ #staysafe #southerncalifornia #socalfires #riseandgrind #norcal #riseandshine #GoodMorning #furledbythc #sonomacounty #lasangeles #california #californiafires #ojai #ventura #cannabis #weedstagram #weed #420 #cannabiscommunity #EmeraldCup2017 #emeraldcup #wildfires #fire #fyah #thankyoufirefighters #thankyou #calilove
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In the meantime, Southern California canna-businesses have already begun doing their part to help direct evacuees to resources and ease the pain as much as possible.
Firefighters and first responders are still on the front lines of the mostly uncontained blazes, with over 200,000 residents already evacuated from their homes.