California’s North Bay wildfires are now the deadliest US wildfires in nearly a century. They’ve killed at least 42 people and injured hundreds, and property damage—including the destruction of more than 8,400 structures—is estimated to balloon into the tens of billions of dollars.
While the fires are still burning, the effort to rebuild has already begun.
Cannabis farmers were among those hardest hit by the infernos, with flames tearing through gardens just as growers prepared to harvest their crops. Even many who were mercifully untouched by the flames are now evaluating the extent of losses caused by the toxic smoke and ash that has blanketed Northern California over recent weeks. And unlike their wine-growing neighbors, cannabis operators are currently unable to recoup their losses through traditional insurance. Federal illegality also means cannabis losses aren’t addressed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
With a difficult recovery ahead, the community has instead relied on its own. Growers and their allies have supported each other in countless ways, sharing information and resources as well as setting up crowdfunding campaigns (although many such efforts ran into problems as some payment processors refused to handle donations to the cannabis industry). Industry members have also pitched in on the wider recovery effort, with cannabis producer CannaCraft, for example, turning office space in Santa Rosa into a temporary headquarters for the Red Cross.
While the fires are still burning, the effort to rebuild has already begun. As grower Ashley Oldham trellises cannabis plants in her replacement greenhouse in Redwood Valley, a tattoo on her wrist captures the spirit of the moment. It reads: “This too shall pass.” —Leafly Staff
Want to help the relief effort? The California Growers Association has launched an online crowdfunding campaign, with all donations going to wildfire relief and recovery. Leafly also has a roundup of other ways you can pitch in to help those impacted by the fires.