By Johnny Green
Multiple states on the West Coast endured horrific wildfires this summer, with some of those fires still raging. What many people have had to endure is nothing short of tragic. Unfortunately, the effects from the devastating fires will linger for years to come.
Entire communities in Washington, Oregon, and California were burned to the ground, displacing many families. Sadly, many people lost their lives during the wildfires.
Many cannabis community members were directly affected by the wildfires. Some owned or worked at farms that were burned in the wildfires, and others lived in communities that were affected. In some cases people were hit with a ruthless double whammy - losing their home and their cannabis farm.
It’s a truly heartbreaking situation. About the only silver-lining out of all of the bleakness was communities stepping up to help those affected by wildfires. People’s compassion for their families, friends, neighbors, and in some cases total strangers, was inspiring.
A number of industries will be significantly affected by the raging wildfires on the West Coast, and that includes the cannabis industry. It is no secret that states on the West Coast cultivate a large amount of cannabis under the sun, and many farms lost entire crops to the wildfires.
The crop loss is not just limited to farms that were burned. It also includes cannabis plants that were subjected to many days of dust and ash circulating through the air. The poor air quality on the West Coast was literally off the charts for a considerable amount of time, and that poor air resulted in a lot of harmful dust and ash building up on the surface of many cannabis plants.
Every legal cannabis plant on the West Coast has to pass rigorous testing to ensure that it is not contaminated, and cannabis plants that were subjected to dust and ash will likely fail testing. All of that cannabis will have to be destroyed if it is determined to be unfit for human consumption. That could prove to be the case for literally millions of pounds of cannabis flower.
It is likely going to be the saddest ‘Croptober’ on record for the West Coast’s emerging legal cannabis industry. For those that are unaware, most outdoor cannabis harvesting on the West Coast occurs in October, so many veteran growers refer to October as Croptober. It’s a fun reference to what has historically been the best time of year for outdoor cultivators. Sadly, this Croptober will likely be anything but fun.
The extensive loss of outdoor cannabis crops will have a butterfly effect on the rest of the industry in Western states, and that will include prices. The basic economic principle of supply and demand will run its course, and with less supply prices will no doubt increase in the coming months. That goes for flower, and everything that flower is made into - edibles, topicals, concentrates, etc.
Fires are a consistently growing danger on the West Coast. Indoor cannabis cultivators may not have to fit wildfire season into their business plans, however, it’s going to be a mandatory inclusion for outdoor cultivators on the West Coast going forward unfortunately. Insurance companies are often reluctant to work with the cannabis industry, and the growing threat of wildfires is presumably not going to help that situation.
If you are a consumer on the West Coast brace yourself for increased prices this winter. Even though indoor cannabis gardens were not affected, so much of the supply in Western states comes from outdoor farms that price hikes are inevitable. Keep in mind that if you are feeling frustrated by the increased prices, just remember that it could be worse - you could have lost everything due to wildfires like many cannabis farmers did so keep things in perspective and show some empathy.