Fires blaze through California weed farms
Two dozen fires in Northern California have destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, charred 170,000 acres and killed at least 23 people.
They're also tearing through the plants in the prime cannabis-growing country in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties.
Nikki Lastreto, secretary of the Mendocino Cannabis Industry Association, told CNN she knows several people who lost their farms. None had insurance. Since cannabis is still illegal under federal law, big companies won't cover pot farms.
Growers are facing "hundreds of millions of dollars in crop damage and loss," reports the San Francisco Chronicle, saying this year could be the "worst year on record" for a cannabis harvest that was on track to be the biggest, after California legalized adult-use pot.
Banks won't work with pot businesses. Growers often stockpile cash. And Josh Drayton, spokesperson for the California Cannabis Industry Association, told the Chronicle that "multiple members" saw their savings burn up, right along with their house.
The fires are causing second-hand problems. Some pot farms are harvesting early to beat the wall of flames. Nearby pot farms report that the smoke is seeping into the leaves and buds, tainting "untold tons" of cannabis with an ashy taste. GreenState says that the growers even have names for the pre-smoked flowers, "campfire pot," "beef jerky" and "hickory kush."
"Beyond the campfire smell, smoke-exposed crops are more susceptible to disease, leading to unhealthy levels of mold, mildew and fungus that may put smokers at risk of developing cardiovascular disease or lung infection," GreenState wrote.