#341 Marijuana Is Top U.S. Cash Crop

Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2006
Subject: #341 Marijuana Is Top U.S. Cash Crop


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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #341 – Wednesday, 20 Dec 2006

Versions of the above headline appeared in articles in newspapers both
within and outside of the United States during the past two days. More
are likely to follow.

The first to appear is an article by Eric Bailey of the Los Angeles
Times, below, which appeared in different versions in other
newspapers. The articles are all a result of a Special Report
“Marijuana Production in the United States (2006)” by Jon Gettman
which is on line at http://www.drugscience.org/bcr/index.html

The articles are good targets for your letters to the editor. You may
wish to check your local newspapers to see if they printed anything
about the report, as it is unlikely that we have found all of the
printed articles.


The following link lists the published articles written by Eric


Andrew Gumbel of the Independent News Service has had a number of
articles published outside the United States


All the articles related to this story will appear


Please note that the related articles will appear at the top of each
of the lists as the above links and are dated 18 Dec 2006 or later.


Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)

Pubdate: Mon, 18 Dec 2006

Copyright: 2006 Los Angeles Times

Contact: letters@latimes.com

Author: Eric Bailey, Times Staff Writer


The $35-Billion Market Value Of U.S.-Grown Cannabis Tops That Of Such
Heartland Staples As Corn And Hay, A Marijuana Activist Says.

SACRAMENTO — For years, activists in the marijuana legalization
movement have claimed that cannabis is America’s biggest cash crop.
Now they’re citing government statistics to prove it.

A report released today by a marijuana public policy analyst contends
that the market value of pot produced in the U.S. exceeds $35 billion
— far more than the crop value of such heartland staples as corn,
soybeans and hay, which are the top three legal cash crops.

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 — and
marijuana is the top cash crop in a dozen states, the report states.

The report estimates that marijuana production has increased tenfold
in the past quarter century despite an exhaustive anti-drug effort by
law enforcement.

Jon Gettman, the report’s author, is a public policy consultant and
leading proponent of the push to drop marijuana from the federal list
of hard-core Schedule 1 drugs — which are deemed to have no medicinal
value and a high likelihood of abuse — such as heroin and LSD.

He argues that the data support his push to begin treating 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.

“Despite years of effort by law enforcement, they’re not getting rid
of it,” Gettman said. “Not only is the problem worse in terms of
magnitude of cultivation, but production has spread all around the
country. To say the genie is out of the bottle is a profound

While withholding judgment on the study’s findings, federal anti-drug
officials took exception to Gettman’s conclusions.

Tom Riley, a spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug
Control Policy, cited examples of foreign 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,” Riley said. “I don’t know why we would venture
down that road.”

The contention that pot is America’s biggest cash crop dates to the
early 1980s, when marijuana legalization advocates began citing Drug
Enforcement Administration estimates suggesting that about 1,000
metric tons of pot were being produced nationwide. Over the years,
marijuana advocates have produced studies estimating the size and
value of the U.S. crop, most recently in 1998.

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.

In California, the state’s Campaign Against Marijuana Planting seized
nearly 1.7 million plants this year — triple the haul in 2005 — with
an estimated street value of more than $6.7 billion. Based on the
seizure rate over the last three years, the study estimates that
California grew more than 21 million marijuana plants in 2006 — with
a production value nearly triple the next closest state, Tennessee,
which had an estimated $4.7-billion cannabis harvest.

California ranked as the report’s top state for both outdoor and
indoor marijuana production. The report estimates that the state had
4.2 million indoor plants valued at nearly $1.5 billion. The state of
Washington was ranked next, with $438 million worth of indoor cannabis

California also is among nine states that produce more cannabis than
residents consumed, Gettman estimates. According to the National
Survey on Drug Use and Health, the state’s 3.3 million cannabis users
represent about 13% of the nation’s pot smokers. But California
produces more than 38% of the cannabis grown in the country, the study

Nationwide, the estimated cannabis production of $35.8 billion exceeds
corn ($23 billion), soybeans ($17.6 billion) and hay ($12.2 billion),
according to Gettman’s findings.


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Prepared by: Richard Lake, Sr. Editor www.DrugNews.org