California wildfires could adversely affect legal marijuana crops

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Wildfires raging in Northern California could have a serious impact on the state’s legal outdoor marijuana harvest, much of which would supply the January launch of recreational cannabis sales.

Across a number of “cultivation websites,” the East Bay Express reported Monday, marijuana growers are already saying that fires in 14 counties are leaving their cannabis reeking of smoke, thereby undercutting the crop’s market value and making it more vulnerable to contaminants.

If outdoor marijuana grows are exposed to wildfire smoke and ash, it could pose a health risk, such as lung infections, to cannabis consumers.

Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the California Growers Association, told the Express that some of the damaged crops could be salvaged through manufacturing processes such as extraction.

But, he added, “a lot of cannabis will be tainted with smoke … It will lose a lot of value.”

John Torrens – a professor of entrepreneurial practice at Syracuse University’s Whitman School – said in a news release that “tens of millions of dollars” in cannabis will be lost because of the fires.

“A 40-acre grow could see a loss of $32 million in product,” Torrens estimated.