The blazing Rocky Fire near Clear Lake, California, has already burned 43 homes and close to 70,000 acres of land. Several acres of that land was used to grow cannabis crops that supplied local medical marijuana dispensaries.
Harborside Health Center is a popular dispensary in Oakland, arguably the most well known in the world. Its purchasing agent, Timothy Anderson, said one of the affected growers effected by the fire has been one of the facility’s sources for medical grade cannabis. He says Harbor Health Center buys approximately 25 percent of their cannabis form the Clear Lake growing region and could not recall a previous fire season that affected the crops to this extent.
Wildfire smoke could make the cannabis plants unfit for medical use. Unwanted environmental agents could cause serious problems for people suffering from compromised immune systems. Anderson said,
“Unlike an apple or tomato, you can’t wash a cannabis plant off…The sticky resin is going to grab onto any environmental grit or grime from the air.”
Anderson speculated that damage to the cannabis crop in the affected area could result in higher prices for dispensaries that buy plants from outdoor growers.
The damage to the cannabis crop and its effect on the medical marijuana market may expand the discussion of how and where cannabis is grown legally. Some estimates say that between 60 and 70 percent of all marijuana consumed in the U.S. is grown in California. This fire season may shed new light on the financial and environmental impacts of cultivation for patients, growers, and dispensaries.