A new report from a marijuana policy analyst contends that the market value of pot produced in the U.S. exceeds $35 billion – far more than the value of such corn, soybeans and hay, which are the top three legal cash crops, reports the Los Angeles Times. California is responsible for more than a third of the cannabis harvest, with an estimated production of $13.8 billion that exceeds the value of the state’s grapes, vegetables and hay combined. Marijuana is the top cash crop in a dozen states, the report states.
The report estimates that marijuana production increased tenfold in 25 years despite an exhaustive anti-drug effort by law enforcement. Author Jon Gettman is a leading proponent of the push to drop marijuana from the federal list of hard-core Schedule 1 drugs – those with no medicinal value and a high likelihood of abuse – such as heroin and LSD. He argues that government should treat cannabis like tobacco and alcohol by legalizing and reaping a tax windfall from it, while controlling production and distribution to better restrict use by teenagers. Tom Riley of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy cited other countries that have struggled with big crops used to produce cocaine and heroin. “Coca is Colombia’s largest cash crop and that hasn’t worked out for them, and opium poppies are Afghanistan’s largest crop, and that has worked out disastrously for them,” he said. “I don’t know why we would venture down that road.”