- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2017

Wildfires in California have burned up more than hillsides, homes and recreational areas. One crop in particular has also been affected, and at an inopportune time, according to those who farm it.

“On January 1, Californians will be able to use pot recreationally. But the huge fires in northern California devastated many marijuana growing operations,” Joel Warner, a contributor to Fast Company, wrote in an analysis.

“The wildfires couldn’t have come at a worse time for California’s cannabis market: in the middle of harvest season and just a few months shy of the 2018 launch of a sprawling recreational cannabis program voters approved last year, which will mean legal pot is available across the state to anyone over 21. But will the damage be enough to complicate the launch of what’s estimated to be the world’s largest recreational cannabis market?” Mr. Warner wondered.

Close to 50 “cannabis farms” burned in recent blazes, he reported.

Mr. Warner said that such “supply chain disruptions” can cause legal marijuana prices to increase by 10 to 20 percent. He also pointed out that new taxes, regulations and fees association with the legalization of marijuana could cause the prices to increase by 70 percent.

“Even if it turns out the blazes damaged or destroyed hundreds or even thousands of cannabis operations, that would still be relatively insignificant for a state that’s believed to have upwards of 50,000 cannabis growers in various states of legality,” Mr. Warner said.

“Thanks to having to operate off the grid for so long, California cannabis growers have always had to look out for each other. Now, thanks to the wildfires and the coming recreational market, cannabis operators are bringing those tendencies out of the shadows,” he continued.

“It’s been one of the first opportunities for a lot of people in the industry to contribute and let our communities know who we are and what we do,” said Dennis Hunter, CEO of Cannacraft, a major merchandiser in the state who donated $50,000 in medical cannabis to area dispensaries to help patients displaced by the disaster.

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