At a market value of $35 billion per year – or $117 per American – marijuana is now the biggest cash crop in the United States, according to a study reported in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times and elsewhere.
[Study author Jon] Gettman’s report cites figures in a 2005 State Department report estimating U.S. cannabis cultivation at 10,000 metric tons, or more than 22 million pounds — 10 times the 1981 production.
Using data on the number of pounds eradicated by police around the U.S., Gettman produced estimates of the likely size and value of the cannabis crop in each state. His methodology used what he described as a conservative value of about $1,600 a pound compared to the $2,000- to $4,000-a-pound street value often cited by law enforcement agencies after busts.
The L.A. Times notes that "California ranked as the report’s top state for both outdoor and indoor marijuana production," and that "California also is among nine states that produce more cannabis than residents consumed."
Curiously, though, we haven’t heard any U.S. politicians proposing to hire DynCorp to spray "Round-Up Ultra" in Humboldt, Mendocino and Marin counties.