Canadian wildfires appear to have little impact on cannabis supplies

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Image of a helicopter flying over a wildfire area in British Columbia

A BC Wildfire Service helicopter flies over a fire area near Hope, British Columbia. (Photo by edb3_16/stock.adobe.com)

Health Canada said two licensed cannabis companies have voiced concerns about the wildfires in British Columbia, but the federal regulator told MJBizDaily it has yet to receive any reports the blazes have destroyed marijuana crops.

“Health Canada is aware that the wildfires and their associated evacuation orders may have an impact on cannabis license holders,” a Health Canada spokesperson said via email Thursday.

“We acknowledge these are challenging times.”

The regulator did not identify the companies.

Canada has been battling its worst wildfire season in decades.

In British Columbia, for example, 368 wildfires were active as of Friday.

The wildfires have caused:

  • 63 evacuation orders in the province, meaning residents are advised to leave the area immediately.
  • 83 evacuation alerts warning about a potential threat to life or property.

According to Health Canada, 234 cannabis license holders were located in British Columbia as of July 31.

Forty-seven of those conduct outdoor cannabis cultivation.

Cannabis producer Avant Brands has three facilities in the area of Kelowna, where wildfires raged and a travel ban was only recently lifted.

Chief Operating Officer David Lynn told MJBizDaily that Avant has been able to continue cultivation and other operations, but management had been worried about two of its facilities.

“We kept the business moving forward, but the smoke was very heavy in Kelowna for some days,” he said in a phone interview.

“We did have days where we (told employees), ‘If you’re uncomfortable with the smoke, or you have to deal with personal issues, then it’s fine if you don’t come to work.’

“It was a scary time because of how fast the fire was moving and expanding in the early days.”

The company was not ordered to evacuate.

Smiths Falls, Ontario-based Canopy Growth Corp. also has a facility in the area.

A Canopy spokesperson said the company made a proactive decision to pause operations at its facility in Kelowna, even though it was not directly affected by the wildfires in the area.

“Given the local and regional impacts, we made the decision late last week to pause on-site operations out of an abundance of caution and to support team members in focusing on their families and local community,” the spokesperson told MJBizDaily via email on Thursday.

“Essential activities have now resumed with full operations coming back up to speed by the end of the week.”

Licensed producer Cake & Caviar, in the Shuswap region of British Columbia, said it was ordered to evacuate.

The order caused the company to pause direct delivery to retail stores, it said in an update on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Cake & Caviar said it will still be stocking inventory via the province’s central distribution channel.

Aurora Cannabis, which has a subsidiary in British Columbia, said it was unaffected by the fires.

“At this time, our facility and teammates in BC are safe,” an Aurora spokesperson told MJBizDaily on Thursday.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and have our business continuity plans in place in the event the situation changes.”

Matt Lamers can be reached at matt.lamers@mjbizdaily.com.