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You Know What Else Is Burning In California Wildfires? Marijuana Fields

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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California is ablaze with at least 19 simultaneous wildfires. And some of those fires have consumed entire marijuana farms, shooting smoke from the plants high into the air.

But what many are really wondering is whether the smoke produced by massive marijuana bonfires can make nearby residents high, Live Science reports.

“Unfortunately, no. Or fortunately, no, depending on your perspective,” Ryan Vandrey, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, told Live Science.

Apparently, while it’s possible enough THC from secondhand marijuana smoke could make it into a person’s lungs, such that they fail a drug test, the conditions under which this occurs are limited. According to Vandrey, users have to consume an inordinate amount of secondhand smoke to get high in a small, enclosed space without adequate ventilation. In normal, outdoor conditions, air circulation effectively mitigates the possibility of a THC high from a burning marijuana farm, unless someone were standing right beside the farm and taking in big gulps of air.

Of course, Vandrey added, breathing in wildfire smoke at that close of a range is fraught with health concerns, aside from the fact that anyone who ventures too near to an out-of-control fire may be caught in the blaze. The smoke from the marijuana farms is mixed with other burning plants like, poison oak.

The medical marijuana industry has suffered greatly as a result of smoke damage, and some observers expect that as supply dips, the price of marijuana at dispensaries, which purchase from marijuana farms, will jump. An additional problem is that farms in California have already had to combat the effects of a serious drought.

“Unlike an apple or tomato, you can’t wash a cannabis plant off,” Timothy Anderson, purchasing manager at an Oakland marijuana dispensary, told NBC Bay Area. “The sticky resin is going to grab onto any environmental grit or grime from the air.”

The total number of marijuana farms lost to the fires is unknown at this time. In California, the cannabis industry brings the state more than $500 million a year in tax revenue.

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