Oregon’s marijuana businesses face threat from devastating wildfires; 1 in 5 under some evacuation level statewide

Southern Oregon wildfires this week have plowed through small towns, leveled hundreds of homes and businesses and now threatens part of the state’s prized – and lucrative – outdoor cannabis crop.

Statewide, an estimated 20 percent of state-licensed marijuana businesses – roughly 408 – face some level of evacuation, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission said Wednesday. That includes stores, marijuana processors and producers.

Of those, the agency said 73 marijuana producers, most of them outdoor farms, have been ordered to evacuate.

Many of those operations are in southern Oregon, a region synonymous with outdoor cannabis cultivation. In addition, state officials said a “significant” number of marijuana businesses in Clackamas County are also under threat from fast-moving wildfires.

Early Wednesday, wildfires encroached on Josephine County’s Takilma, prompting an evacuation order of the counter-culture enclave long associated with cannabis. The small remote community in the Illinois Valley is a “breadbasket” of cannabis production, said Nathan Howard, who with his brother, Aaron, operates East Fork Cultivars.

Josephine and Jackson counties are home to 62 percent of Oregon’s outdoor marijuana producers, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Howard said his brother was awakened by a neighbor early Wednesday who urged him to evacuate. [Read more at The Oregonian]

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