New Book Claims: Pot Not Top Cash Crop


For many years, marijuana legalization proponents have put forth the argument that marijuana is hands-down, America’s leading cash crop. Far out ranking soy beans, wheat and corn, in addition to many of the other breadbasket staples produced within the American industrial heartland.

Many have long argued that legalizing pot could potentially raise approximately $30 billion in tax revenue, for many of the cash poor city governments that are so desperately looking for new revenue sources, in addition to offering massive savings for those law enforcement entities which must process and house within their prisons these nonviolent criminals.

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In our new Bizarro world, some offer up research which tends to throw our basic assumptions out the window, summarizing – that far from being the US biggest cash crop – cannabis according to these reports might not even make it into the top five. Instead, hemp and its black sheep cousin, marijuana would barely make it into the top 15, “probably falling somewhere in between… potatoes, hay, or almonds”… The report went on to say.

These counterintuitive numbers were part of a recently published book, “marijuana legalization: what everyone needs to know”… This recently published study by a group of researchers who come from a wide range of disciplines, beliefs and backgrounds. The major participants in this recent report were from UCLA, Pepperdine University and a select handful of public policy experts that were gathered from the Carnegie Melon University.

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The major source of contention in this report was the former number of $35.8 billion that the national organization for the reform of marijuana laws had cited as America’s annual marijuana crop value in 2006.  The report went on to claim that California was hands-down the top cultivator for most of the marijuana produced in the United States, being responsible for approximately 1/3 of the total production of the nations marijuana flowers, and would approximate the value of it at $13.8 billion… Yet- according to the information out in this new book – those assumptions seem to be flaming out and going up in smoke.

The issue that our new author has with the 2006 NORML report is that the $35.8 billion figure was derived by multiplying a weighted average price of approximately $1,606 per pound and based on a yearly production of approximately 22.3 million pounds. The problem with the number is that it outstrips even the biggest estimates for all of the known marijuana smoked within the United States, regardless of whether or not it’s for medical, or recreational use; and whether or not the marijuana was imported or grown domestic.

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Some believe that the foundational issue which is problematic within the 2006 report was that its estimates were based on cultivation numbers which were published in many government reports and the misinformation that was handed out as fact by the office of the national drug control policy.

No one’s crystal ball is clear on this topic, how can anyone actually  know with any certainty, what the value of our domestic marijuana crop is? As any cultivator would know most pot growers are not interested in speaking with a surveyor… rather they would just as soon hide in shadows and keep their cash in their mattress. Now with the Obama federal crackdown within the states that have legalized medical marijuana any hopes of getting a true estimation as to this crops real domestic value has long thrown out the window.


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1 Comment

  1. I didn’t look at the study itself, but there’s no mention of what sort of effect that marijuana being illegal has on prices. If marijuana was made legal, the price on it would almost certainly drop out or at least be taxed so much that a large portion of the cash generated would be going to the government. Gross.

    However, that would also indicate that marijuana is on its way to becoming even less of a cash crop in my opinion.

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