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Could Wildfires Affect Cannabis Supply?

As wildfires ravage the Prairies, ignited by a once-in-a-century drought, it was only a matter of time before grow facilities began to be affected by the quickly spreading flames.

Evacuation Notice

Last week, Aurora Cannabis reported evacuating its outdoor cannabis facility in Westwold, BC as a wildfire in the area got dangerously close. The company said the evacuation order had no impact on its business, and that within a few days employees in the area were allowed to return to their homes. There was no word, however, on any damages to Aurora’s 200-acre farm.

 

The White Rock Lake Wildfire threatening the farm is spread over 80,000 hectares, and while Westwold families have been allowed to return home, the fire is still designated as ‘Out of Control’.

According to Aurora, all employees and their families are safe and sound, however, the protection of the site is continually being monitored to protect its assets.

Is the Industry Prepared for Supply Chain Disruptions?

While the whole farm spans 200 acres, in 2020 Aurora planted less than one-quarter of it. Still, losses from this prolific licensed producer could cause major disruptions to the supply chain. Even without utilizing its full space, that could still account for tens—even hundreds—of thousands of plants destroyed, meaning hundreds of kilograms of cannabis that won’t make it to market.

Aurora isn’t the only ones affected, either, just the best equipped to bounce back. Handfuls of craft cultivators and processors exist in the same area, and while they may have fewer assets to worry about protecting, they also have less capital to replace them.

As wildfires spread across British Columbia, central Alberta and Saskatchewan, how many more cultivators will be affected? Luckily for Aurora, it seems that no plants have been damaged, but any number of weather events could cause losses and shortages of product. Are producers and retailers prepared for disruptions in the supply chain?