Legal cannabis sales have gone through the roof in the US, yet the Department of Agriculture refuses to acknowledge or track the value of annual harvests like it does for all other crops. To fill this data gap, Leafly has just published its inaugural Cannabis Harvest Report, revealing that the crop now pulls in more money than cotton and is the fifth most valuable agricultural product in the US.
The Value Of Last Year’s Cannabis Crop
According to the report, American growers produced and sold 2,278 metric tons of weed in 2020. The authors explain that this is enough pot to roll more than 2 billion joints or fill 57 Olympic-size swimming pools. For lovers of ridiculous units of measurement, that’s also around 1.7 million washing machines’ worth of weed.
It’s worth noting, however, that this doesn’t even take into account the entire cannabis crop produced in the US last year. For simplicity, the researchers only included data from the 11 states where adult-use cannabis is available to purchase at licensed dispensaries. Combined sales from these states amounted to $6.2 billion, and supported a total of 13,042 licensed farms in 2020.
To put that into perspective, this makes cannabis the fifth most valuable crop in the US, ahead of rice and peanuts and behind only wheat, hay, soybeans and corn.
In Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon, cannabis was the single most valuable crop on the market last year, and it ranked second in Arizona and third in Michigan and Illinois. Amazingly, the year’s cannabis harvest in Alaska was worth more than double the combined value of all other agricultural products.
In Massachusetts, meanwhile, the cannabis crop was three times more valuable than the state’s famous cranberry harvest.
Having first been legalised in Colorado back in 2012, cannabis is now not only the state’s most profitable crop, but has finally eclipsed the illicit market, with 80 percent of all pot consumed in the state being supplied by licensed outlets. According to the report’s authors, such a timeframe should be noted by officials from other states who may be frustrated that their legal market hasn’t yet outstripped street sales, implying that several years may be required in order to meet this goal.
Why Track The Cannabis Crop?
Because weed remains illegal at the federal level, the Department of Agriculture refuses to account for the annual cannabis crop, and excludes cannabis farmers from all of its programmes. Aside from disadvantaging these cultivators, a lack of recorded data leaves voters, lawmakers and businesses in the dark when it comes to making informed decisions about pot.
In a press release, lead author David Downs criticised the government’s insistence on ignoring the value of the cannabis crop, explaining that “America does not treat cannabis farmers like farmers. They are subject to more state and federal taxes, regulations, and stigma than any other type of farmer. These barriers hurt small legacy farmers the most.”
Highlighting the importance of last year’s cannabis crop to the national economy, he insists that “this plant is helping generate wealth, employment, and community investment around the country, and our legislators need to recognize the opportunity cannabis presents for Americans—today.”