California Pot Farms Hit By Wildfires Receive Neighborly Aid

Buds without borders.
California Pot Farms Hit By Wildfires Receive Neighborly Aid
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Natural disasters, for all the havoc and devastation they bring, tend to bring out the best in people. Faced with such overwhelming loss, the normal “every person for themselves” mentality that normally prevails is cast aside, and people come together to organize for mutual aid. When hurricane Harvey ripped through Texas, for example, reports that some vultures were trying to sell cases of bottled water for $400 generated enormous outrage, even though the “logic” of supply-and-demand would demand nothing less. The point is, ideas which usually generate ridicule in a capitalist society—redistributing resources, organizing mutual aid, breaking down borders—suddenly become not just a possibility, but a necessity for survival. So when we see California pot farms hit by wildfires receive neighborly aid from Oregon, we smile inside. The cannabis industry is looking out for its own.

Dozens Of California Marijuana Farms Up In Flames

California Pot Farms Hit By Wildfires Receive Neighborly Aid

When epic, record-breaking wildfires swept through Northern California this summer, they burned up about three dozen outdoor marijuana farms.

Picture full-grown, luscious plants. A crop at its peak. Just about ready for harvest. Millions of dollars’ worth of plants. The raw materials destined for store shelves when the legal recreational market takes effect on January 1, 2018.

What’s left of that idyllic scene, if there’s anything left of it at all, is covered in ash. The rest, completely destroyed.

You might be thinking, “good thing for insurance.” But federally backed crop insurance isn’t available for marijuana farmers.

Most other farmers can take advantage of the Federal Crop Insurance Act. But not farmers who grow a plant that the federal government considers a Schedule I drug.

Nor are cannabis crops eligible for federal disaster relief or emergency assistance.

So all that potential pot profit? Up in flames. Along with the houses and belongings of the people who made their farms their homes.

Pot Solidarity: California Pot Farms Hit By Wildfires Receive Neighborly Aid

California Pot Farms Hit By Wildfires Receive Neighborly Aid
David McNew/Getty Images

Federal prohibition made marijuana farmers ineligible for crop insurance. But the state of California hasn’t stepped up to help much, either.

Dennis Rosatti, who’s on the board of the Sonoma Country Growers Alliance, told Oregon TV station KVAL that many of the farms lost to the wildfires had yet to be licensed by the state, which made them ineligible for state insurance. In short, the farms had no options for insuring their crops.

And that’s when California’s neighbors to the north stepped up.

Through a campaign called Buds Without Borders, Oregon cannabis businesses are raising money to help farmers in California recover.

The campaign launched this week on “Giving Tuesday,” a day which encourages people to give money to charitable causes. For now, the campaign is the only program where California pot farms hit by wildfires are receiving neighborly aid specifically from Oregon. But that shouldn’t stop you. You can help too!

For his part, Rosatti hopes the campaign can help farms rebuild.

“Political borders are lines on a map,” he said. “If I’ve seen anything in these fires, it’s that communities come together. The resilience is so amazing.”

Establishing these kinds of networks of mutual support are crucial, especially now. With human-driven climate change creating the conditions that fan the flames of wildfires like these, this won’t be the last time California marijuana farms go up in smoke.

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