Despite only being fully legal in 11 states, cannabis is now the fifth-most valuable crop in America, according to a new report from Leafly created in partnership with Whitney Economics.
With a total annual wholesale value of $6.2 billion dollars, cannabis has quickly moved ahead of such agricultural mainstays as cotton ($4.7 billion) and rice ($3.1 billion), trailing only wheat ($9.3 billion), hay ($17.9 billion), soybeans ($46 billion) and corn, which is still the king at a whopping $61 billion in annual revenue.
According to the report, there are now 13,042 licensed cannabis farms spread across the 11 states with legal adult-use industries. Together, they harvest 2,278 metric tons — or more than 5 million pounds — of marijuana annually.
In each of the 11 states, the report found that cannabis ranks no lower than fifth in terms of agricultural crop value and is the single most valuable crop in Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada and Oregon. In Alaska, cannabis doubles the value of anything else grown by farmers.
Because cannabis is federally illegal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not account for it in its agricultural reports, which prompted Leafly to take on the task. To determine the value of the crops, Leafly says it used the USDA’s approach, “ascertaining production amounts for the most recent 12-month reporting period in each state, and multiplying that production by wholesale prices in each state to arrive at the crop’s value.”
“Due to federal prohibition, 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,” lead author and Leafly’s California bureau chief David Downs said in a press release.
Leafly’s research found that while Colorado currently produces the most cannabis — 1,207 licensees produced 627 metric tons valued at $1.03 billion — California’s industry generates the most revenue, getting $1.66 billion from 514 metric tons produced by 7,548 licensees.
— Brian Beckley