Cannabis Is A More Lucrative Crop Than Potatoes Or Rice In The US

Cannabis Is A More Lucrative Crop Than Potatoes Or Rice In The US

A new report indicates that marijuana is the sixth most valuable cash crop in the United States.



According to Leafly's 2022 Cannabis Harvest Report, the wholesale value of marijuana topped $5 billion across 15 states where adult-use cannabis is legal. That amount makes the budding new agricultural offering the country's sixth most valuable cash crop, exceeding that of potatoes and rice. That figure is even more impressive, considering these numbers do not include the medical marijuana markets flourishing in an additional two dozen states.


Because the plant remains prohibited under federal law, it is woefully understudied and accounted for through traditional agricultural surveys. The Leafly report fills in significant gaps surrounding data gathered on cannabis throughout the country.


Through its exhaustive analysis, the company rigorously studied licensing records for legal marijuana states, sales and tax reports, commercial pricing data, field measurements, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) crop values, and other expert input in putting together its report. As a result, the study includes past 12-month data for some states and full-year 2021 information in others.


According to the report, almost 13,300 American farms currently grow cannabis for adult use in the 15 states surveyed. One of the study's main conclusions is that despite the plant only being legal and regulated in a handful of states, the marijuana industry is a substantial piece of the overall agricultural sector in the US.


Its estimated wholesale value of $5 billion puts cannabis above several staple American crops, including rice and potatoes. In fact, the only ones that exceed its value are soybeans, hay, corn, wheat and cotton.



In a press release, David Downs, the report's lead author and Leafly's California bureau chief, said, "Simply put, local and federal governments do not treat cannabis farmers like farmers. There is systematic discrimination at the local, state, and federal level(s). Adult-use cannabis is a top cash crop in states where it's legal, but that song goes unsung."


"Simply put, local and federal governments do not treat cannabis farmers like farmers. There is systematic discrimination at the local, state, and federal level(s). Adult-use cannabis is a top cash crop in states where it's legal, but that song goes unsung."

- David Downs, Leafly California Bureau Chief


The USDA does keep track of industrial hemp yields since it was legalized at the federal level in 2018. However, it does not gather similar data for the marijuana industry because of its still federally prohibited status. The report referred to that as a "significant omission with real implications."


The report goes on to say, "Americans want to end the Drug War and move consumers to a legal, taxed, and tested crop. Voters and community leaders need production, price, licensing, and crop value data to measure our progress. Regulators in some states cannot supply the most basic fact about their cannabis markets."


"Americans want to end the Drug War and move consumers to a legal, taxed, and tested crop. Voters and community leaders need production, price, licensing, and crop value data to measure our progress. Regulators in some states cannot supply the most basic fact about their cannabis markets."

- Leafly's 2022 Cannabis Harvest Report


A breakdown by state indicated that the wholesale value of cannabis ranged from $20 million in Vermont to $1 billion in California for adult-use marijuana.


Moreover, recreational cannabis was valued at $687 million in Colorado, $445 million in Illinois, $551 million in Michigan, $420 million in Nevada, $500 million in Oregon and $350 million in Washington State.


The study additionally found that farmers cultivated 24% more metric tons of adult-use marijuana in 2021 than the previous year. Overall, the sector grew 2,834 metric tons of cannabis, that "would fill nearly 15,000 dump trucks lined up end-to-end for up for 45 miles."


Likewise, researchers concluded that if medical marijuana states could be a part of the report, the total yield would be "about 3 to 5 times larger," making cannabis potentially the third largest cash crop in the US. Furthermore, the final tally would grow even more significantly if legal hemp yields were included in the analysis.


The report concludes, "None of the 15 legal states included in the Leafly Harvest Report officially list cannabis among their top agricultural commodities. Even though marijuana is the No. 1 crop in Alaska, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, regulators in two of those states don't even publish production totals. Legal marijuana became the No. 1 cash crop in New Jersey within months of the first store opening in April 2022."


"None of the 15 legal states included in the Leafly Harvest Report officially list cannabis among their top agricultural commodities. Even though marijuana is the No. 1 crop in Alaska, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, regulators in two of those states don't even publish production totals. Legal marijuana became the No. 1 cash crop in New Jersey within months of the first store opening in April 2022."

- Leafly's 2022 Cannabis Harvest Report


Numbers do not lie, and when it comes to cannabis, the "actual" truth provides even more eye-opening revelations. According to many experts, the American economy is either currently in or rapidly approaching a significant recession. Inflation is at a 40-year high, and consumer confidence is at an all-time low.


Nevertheless, despite all this negative activity, one sector of the economy is not only continuing to grow but may actually provide revenue and resources to help stem the tide. Another report released by Leafly this past February shed some favorable light concerning job growth in the cannabis industry. It found that almost half a million people are employed full-time in the cannabis sector, with more jobs being added as new state markets come online and mature.


For the first time last year, job creation in the marijuana industry eclipsed six figures, with 107,059 new jobs created. Compare that to 32,700 in 2019 and 77,300 in 2020. There is a clear and optimistic upward trajectory in not only the quantity of cannabis being grown and consumed in the United States but also in the fundamental expansion in employment opportunities, tax revenue, and the almost forgotten potential health and wellness benefits many express receiving from either medical or adult-use marijuana.


By next week, nearly half of the United States could have legal recreational marijuana, and 80% of states could have approved medical cannabis programs. It's not just a fun plant for teens to experiment with and annihilate a super-sized bag of nachos anymore. Marijuana is a socially, medically and economically powerful force that must be acknowledged and appreciated for what it can potentially be for the United States and the entire planet. Get out and VOTE!