America is beginning to end its disastrous century-long war on marijuana. We strike swords into plows. So what comes from the fields? Answer: The fifth most expensive crop in America.
for the first time Cannabis Harvest Report, issued today, counted 13,042 cannabis farm licenses in 11 legal states where retail stores are open. This unprecedented peek into American pot production found that farmers grow 2,278 metric tons annually. It’s a staggering number—enough to fill 57 Olympic-size swimming pools, or more than 11,000 dump trucks spanning more than 36 miles.
Since cannabis prices in the United States range from about $500 to $3,000 per wholesale pound, you’re looking at a crop of $6.175 billion annually. According to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, the value of America’s legal cannabis crop ranks fifth nationwide, ahead of cotton. However, state and federal officials in general do not track or acknowledge it.
Pulling back the curtain on the cannabis ban
Why did we count the crop? Because cannabis is stigmatized as much as it is valuable.
Economists at the USDA track annual yields, prices, and estimated values for nearly every commercial crop grown in America. But they do not track legal cannabis due to the plant’s status as a Federal Schedule I drug.
Our goal with the Leafy Harvest Report is to quantify annual cannabis production in operational adult use cases, just as the USDA Economic Research Service does with all non-cannabis crops. This is the first time anyone has done this, as far as we know.
Voters, legislators, and industry leaders need these basic facts to make informed decisions. The Harvest Report is the third in this year’s Leafly Reports series, including Leafly Jobs Report And Leafly Seeds of Change: Strategies for Creating a Fair Cannabis Industry.
Huge harvest, bigger report results
Here are some points obtained from the report:
- Only corn, soybeans, hay and wheat yield more wholesale revenue
American farmers annually.
- Legal hemp is the most valuable crop in Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon.
- In each of the eleven states in which adult retail stores operate, cannabis ranks at least one fifth in the value of the crop—often within two years of the first legal stores opening.
- In a surprising result, the seven-year-old legal cannabis growing industry in Colorado produced California (627 metric tons for Colorado versus 514 metric tons for California). But this progress may not be sustainable. After years of slow growth, California’s licensed farming sector is finally taking off.
How to calculate the lottery fly yield
Senior Editor of Leafly News David Downs And Bruce Barcot Collaborated with Beau Whitney in Whitney Economics To compile annual crop data from 11 states with active and legal sales of cannabis for adult use.
We followed the USDA’s method for calculating the value of crops by finding the average wholesale price per pound in a state, and multiplying it by the amount of hemp that the state produces. In those eleven states, we counted crops for adult use and medicinal outlets.
Amelia Williams, independent cannabis journalists (Debunking the myths of the dispensary, 2020) and Zack Ruskin assisted with research and reporting.
Read our full methodology on page 15 of the report.
It’s time to treat cannabis growers as first-class citizens
Prohibition, excessive regulation, and excessive taxation violate Americans’ constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness with respect to the cultivation of cannabis in gardens and agriculture.
The federal government should legalize adult cannabis, and harden the old cannabis growers through low fees and easy licensing procedures.
The Leafly Cannabis Harvest report summarizes the discrimination that cannabis growers face at both the federal and state levels — years of auditing and millions of dollars in additional expenses — just to put seeds in the soil.
In addition, this $6 billion agricultural sector suffers from a shortage of banks and insurance. Most farmers have to pay taxes in cash. 38 state attorneys general called on Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act, which would increase public safety and tax compliance. Reform measures such as the Safe Banking Act (SAFE) and especially the More Act (which would legalize federalism) are long overdue.
Hemp cultivation predates the union of our country. And the most perfect union will recognize and respect the power of this plant.