A crowdfunding company has returned money to donors which was meant to relieve cannabis businesses impacted by Northern California’s raging forest fires.
When we last reported on the Northern California wildfire disaster last week, ten had died as a result of the fire, 1,500 structures had been destroyed, and several cannabis businesses in the area were either suspending their operations or watching their crops burn up in the blaze.
Since then, at least 31 more lives were taken by the fire while several dozen more remain missing and acreage consumed by the fire has nearly doubled.
The damage done to the cannabis industry, too, has expanded. The California Growers Association (CGA) reported to Leafly that as many as 300 cannabis farms have been affected by the fires.
While some crops have been burned up entirely, others in the area have been polluted with toxic levels of ash and smoke. Even crops which survive the fire are left more vulnerable to disease, fungus, mildew, and mold.
Unlike many other farms impacted negatively by the fires, marijuana crops are not eligible for crop insurance. As in banking, cannabis business people are forced to find creative ways to build their own safety nets.
The Northern California cannabis community did begin weaving its own safety net. In the midst of the fire, CGA founder and executive director Hezekiah Allen started a crowdfunding effort to offer relief to area growers. As of Monday, more than $10,000 had been raised on the platform YouCaring for the “CalGrowers Wildlife Relief Fund.” And that was after only about 50 donations.
But on Monday donors began having their contributions returned. Later that same day WePay, YouCaring’s online payment broker, sent Allen a message saying that his campaign had violated the firm’s terms of service.
“Current U.S. federal law prohibits the purchase and sale of cannabis and cannabis extracts,” the email read. “Subsequently, WePay is unable to process payments connected to the production, sale, or consumption of cannabis, even in situations where such activities would be permitted under state law.”
Allen told Leafly that he had explained to the firm the campaign would not go to fund cannabis, only the recovery of farmers affected. That response, he said, fell on deaf ears.
Allen has since began another crowdfunding effort on Nationbuilder.