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California wildfires destroying pot farms just before legal sales begin in state

A firefighter hoses down a fire-ravaged home in Napa. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
A firefighter hoses down a fire-ravaged home in Napa. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

The Northern California wildfires this week have destroyed at least seven marijuana farms just months before the state begins licensing legal sales of cannabis, making it the “worst year on record” for loss of crops, an industry leader said Tuesday.

Many growers lost their homes and farms in the Redwood Complex fire in Mendocino County, the Atlas fire in Napa County and the Stubbs and Nuns fires in Sonoma County, said Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Assn.

“The October 2017 firestorm is having an extremely severe impact on our communities,” Allen said. “It is the worst year on record, and the worst year I can remember, in terms of farms lost. We have been able to confirm seven farms lost, but we expect the number to be much higher as more information comes in.”

The loss is especially severe this year because many growers had spent their life savings getting local permits and preparing crops for state licensure and sales scheduled to begin Jan. 2, Allen said.

In addition, he said, marijuana growers do not qualify for crop insurance or federal emergency relief funds.

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