Cultivation of hashish: Cannabis on its way to become one of the country’s most valuable commodities | East Bay Express

One of the many lingering myths about cannabis – like the “smoked bowls of George and Martha Washington in Mount Vernon” – is that the pot is by far the main cash crop in the country. Anyone who’s ever flown over or crossed the Midwest should know: Corn is king in the United States. And soy is no exception.

Corn will certainly retain the title for the foreseeable future, but new research from Leafly concludes that legal weeds are nearing the peak of crops, becoming the nation’s fifth most valuable crop. That puts it right behind wheat and just ahead of cotton, the crop that in many ways fueled the rise of America. Cotton is also similar to cannabis in another, darker way: African Americans have suffered tremendously to bring both cultures to the masses. See also: sugar.

The myth of the pot’s value as a crop isn’t as far-fetched as many other pot myths, like the one that insists the federal government grows the best weed in the world on a secret farm. In fact, there are valid arguments that the high pot value is not a myth at all. It depends on how the “value of the crop” is measured. And the debate is clouded by the fact that pot was illegal for decades, and much of it still is. It’s not like illicit weed growers have a habit of reporting their receipts to their local farm office. And because weed is still federally illegal, even legitimate growers and processors are reluctant to release reports when they are not obligated to.

About 15 years ago, cannabis seemed to have turned out to be America’s main crop in terms of monetary value when the National Organization for Marijuana Law Reform released research showing it to be so. America’s annual pot crop value was $ 35.8 billion, the report concluded, exceeding the value of corn by more than $ 12 billion at the time. All the media devoured him.

For several years, the report, written by Jon Gettman, then president of NORML, was often cited without criticism. In 2012, a widely acclaimed book written by a team of researchers and titled Legalization of marijuana: what everyone needs to know question the findings of the report. The authors – Jonathan Caulkins, Angela Hawken, Mark Kleiman and Beau Kilmer – said Gettman relied too much on “hypothetical” numbers and drew specious conclusions. “Analyzes purporting to support the claim,” they wrote, “must misrepresent the numbers, citing the retail price of marijuana but the farm gate price of other products, or claiming that all marijuana consumed in the United States United in sinsemilla, or ignoring the fact that most of the marijuana used in the United States is imported, or simply starting with implausible estimates of American production, Gettman backed his research.
Importantly, Leafly measured the value of legal grass, which is still overshadowed, even in California, by illicit cultivation. Although the numbers there are still a bit hazy, they are much stronger than those supposed to quantify illegal cultivation. According to Leafly, legal cannabis comes after corn, soybeans, hay and wheat. The value of corn is about $ 60 billion. The pot is worth $ 6.2 billion. The most remarkable statistic Leafly perhaps shared, however, is the fact that there are now over 13,000 pot farms in the United States. “It’s time to start treating cannabis growers like farmers,” Leafly said.

At some point, all the back and forth where culture is most valuable becomes, literally, academic. Leafly’s research is also based on a fair amount of estimates, although the estimates appear to be more robust than Gettman’s. That’s not a flaw: it’s just that, even with legal weed, it’s still impossible to pin down hard numbers. This will remain the case until the pot is fully legal in the United States. At this point, the value of the cannabis crop will become just as reliably measurable as the value of the tomato crop.

For now, it’s probably best to just appreciate the fact that a crop that sent thousands to jail just for possession is undoubtedly one of the most valuable in the land.

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About Marco C. Nichols

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