Wildfire smoke exposure has significant economic impacts on California’s licensed cannabis industry
Environmental Research Letters
Dillis, C., Butsic, V., Martin, J., Reiman, A., Starrs, G., Grantham, T.
Photo of marijuana plant in a grow bag, surrounded by the flames of wildfire
With the largest legal cannabis market in the world, California's cannabis crops face increasing wildfire impacts, leading to substantial economic loss.

While anecdotal evidence of increasing wildfire impacts to California’s cannabis crops has been documented during recent extreme fire seasons, the economic losses resulting from smoke exposure and other indirect effects (e.g., ash fall, mandatory evacuations, power outages) are not well understood. Berkeley Cannabis Research Center environmental scientists found that cannabis farms experienced wildfire-related crop losses across all cannabis growing regions in 2020. Northern regions experienced particularly high crop loss across all four study years. Potential economic losses in 2020 and 2021 were estimated at $1.44 billion and $970.04 million, respectively. These losses exceed annual values of many of California’s other agricultural commodities. Attention to the development and implementation of mitigation strategies can help protect cannabis crop losses from wildfires, especially in light of increasing fire occurrence and severity under climate change.