Cannabis is named America's biggest cash crop

Medical Marijuana at the U.S. Federal level.

Moderator: administration

Cannabis is named America's biggest cash crop

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Dec 31, 2006 1:44 pm

The Independent wrote:High times for farmers as cannabis is named America's biggest cash crop

The Independent
By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
Published: 19 December 2006

Marijuana is the most valuable cash crop in the United States, worth more to its growers than corn and wheat combined, according to a new report by a leading American drug reform lobbyist that cites the US government's own figures.

Decades of government efforts to crack down on both the cultivation and consumption of pot have had a counter-productive effect, since even the most conservative government estimates suggest domestic marijuana production has increased tenfold in the past 25 years. It is the leading cash crop in 12 states, and one of the top five crops in 39 states.

The report's author, Jon Gettman, says it is "larger than cotton in Alabama, larger than grapes, vegetables and hay in California, larger than peanuts in Georgia, and larger than tobacco in South and North Carolina".

California accounts for almost a third of all US production. It is a major economic force in the state, especially in the redwood forests in the north, where the smell of weed wafts unmistakably down the streets of several towns.

Marijuana remains popular with the baby boomer generation, which first experimented with it in the 1950s and 1960s. And its use is booming among teenagers and young adults, especially as alcohol cannot be sold to under 21s. US Marijuana cultivation is worth more than $35bn (£18bn) per year. And that is a conservative estimate, based on government price surveys, Mr Gettman says. Corn, the largest legitimate crop, is worth just over $23bn and soybeans around $17bn. "Despite years of effort by law enforcement, they're not getting rid of it," Mr Gettman told the Los Angeles Times ahead of his report's publication yesterday in The Bulletin of Cannabis Reform. "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 understatement."

Figures issued by the State Department and other government agencies show marijuana production increased from an estimated 2.2 million pounds in 1981 to at least 22 million pounds. Some estimates put the current crop as high as 50 million pounds.

Since the presidency of George Bush Snr in the late 1980s, official policy has been one of zero tolerance of all illegal narcotics. Recently, the federal government has been unforgiving of the medical marijuana movement, and federal agents have raided numerous marijuana farms that were fully licensed under state law.

It has not cut down use of the drug. Mr Gettman and other activists argue that it might be time to legalise the entire industry and subject it to proper regulatory control and taxation.

"The fact that marijuana is America's number-one cash crop after more than three decades of governmental eradication efforts is the clearest illustration that our present marijuana laws are a complete failure," said Rob Kampia, executive director of Washington's Marijuana Policy Project.

User avatar
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2769
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2006 6:38 pm
Location: Santa Cruz, California

Marijuana top US cash crop, analyst says

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Dec 31, 2006 1:51 pm

Reuters wrote:Marijuana top US cash crop, analyst says

<table class=posttable align=right width=260><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/marijuanacorn.jpg></td></tr></table>Mon Dec 18, 2006 9:34 PM GMT

By David Alexander

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. growers produce nearly $35 billion worth of marijuana annually, making the illegal drug the country's largest cash crop, bigger than corn and wheat combined, an advocate of medical marijuana use said in a study released on Monday.

The report, conducted by Jon Gettman, a public policy analyst and former head of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, also concluded that five U.S. states produce more than $1 billion worth of marijuana apiece: California, Tennessee, Kentucky, Hawaii and Washington.

California's production alone was about $13.8 billion, according to Gettman, who waged an unsuccessful six-year legal battle to force the government to remove marijuana from a list of drugs deemed to have no medical value.

Tom Riley, a spokesman for the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, said he could not confirm the report's conclusions on the size of the country's marijuana crop. But he said the government estimated overall U.S. illegal drug use at $200 billion annually.

Gettman's figures were based on several government reports between 2002 and 2005 estimating the United States produced more than 10,000 metric tons of marijuana annually.

He calculated the producer price per pound of marijuana at $1,606 based on national survey data showing retail prices of between $2,400 and $3,000 between 2001 and 2005.

The total value of 10,000 metric tons of marijuana at $1,606 per pound would be $35.8 billion.

By comparison, the United States produced an average of nearly $23.3 billion worth of corn annually from 2003 to 2005, $17.6 billion worth of soybeans, $12.2 billion worth of hay, nearly $11.1 billion worth of vegetables and $7.4 billion worth of wheat, the report said.

Gettman said the 10-fold increase in U.S. marijuana production, from 1,000 metric tons in 1981 to 10,000 metric tons in 2006, showed the country was failing to control marijuana by making its cultivation and use illegal.

"Marijuana has become a pervasive and ineradicable part of the economy of the United States," he said. "The contribution of this market to the nation's gross domestic product is overlooked in the debate over effective control."

"Like all profitable agricultural crops marijuana adds resources and value to the economy," he added. "The focus of public policy should be how to effectively control this market through regulation and taxation in order to achieve immediate and realistic goals, such as reducing teenage access."

Riley said illegal drug use was a "serious part of the economy," but he rejected the notion of an economic argument for legalizing marijuana.

He said marijuana use was an "inherently harmful activity" with serious physical and mental health consequences. He said more American teens were in treatment centers for marijuana dependency than for all other drugs combined.

User avatar
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2769
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2006 6:38 pm
Location: Santa Cruz, California

America goes to Pot and Prisons

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jan 02, 2007 4:17 pm wrote:

<hr class=postrule>
December 22, 2006

America goes to Pot and Prisons

By Richard Mathis

America can no longer keep the course on the war on drugs. It has been a waste of money while wasting too many lives. It costs three times as much to fight drugs as a criminal problem as the actual cost of damage done by illegal drugs and yet the level of use remains the same. Despite an astronomical increase in prisoners serving harsh sentences for drug offenses since the early 80s, American domestic marijuana production has increased tenfold during the same time frame so that pot is now America's biggest agricultural product with revenues of around $35 tax-free billion dollars annually.

So concluded Jon Gettman, a researcher and former head of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, in a report that found California, Hawaii, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Washington each produce more than a billion dollars worth of pot a year. California alone produces almost $14 billion.

Gettman used government estimates that growers produce more than 10,000 metric tons of marijuana annually. Multiply 10,000 metric tones by the average price per pound of $1,606 and that equates to $35.8 billion. That figure does not include the amount Americans spend on imported reefer.

The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, estimates that total American drug use is $200 billion annually. Divide that by an estimated 300 million Americans and you get the average American - man, woman, child and all points in between - spending an average of $666.66 each on illegal drugs. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that in 2003 worldwide retails sales were $322 billion. The UN estimated that 44% of that market was mostly in the United States. In other words, Americans, who account for 5 percent of the world's population, account for roughly 44% of the world's money spent on illegal drugs. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, worldwide illegal drug revenue is greater than the Gross Domestic Product of 163 countries, or 88% of the countries in the world.

Revenue generated from American grown marijuana is more than that of corn which averages annually around $23 billion; corn $17.6 billion; soybeans $12 billion; vegetables $11 billion, and $7 billion of wheat. Worldwide, illegal drugs account for 14% of agricultural exports.

If American marijuana growers were a single business entity, it would rank number 72 on the Wikipedia list of the top 100 businesses in terms of revenues. American pot growers don't come close to number one, ExxonMobil, with its revenues of $370.6 billion. Yet pot farmers can take pride that their revenues in America exceed worldwide that of Pepsi at $32 billion and Coca-Cola at $23 billion.

There has been a 10-fold increase in American pot production since 1981 even though the incarceration rate has also rocketed until now there are more people in federal prison for pot than for violence. Approximately one out of every six federal inmates is in prison on pot related charges.
While the United States has only 5 percent of the world's population, it has 25 percent of the world's prison population. The United States puts more people in prison than western Europe puts in prison on all offenses. America has more people in prison than China or Russia, and that America's incarceration rate of 737 people per 100,000 is the highest in the world.

In 2005, American authorities arrested 786,545 people on pot charges. According to a study in the Harm Reduction Journal, 88% of the approximate 700,000 arrests for marijuana were for possession in 2002. Since 1990, there has been an 82% increase in arrests on marijuana charges with
"virtually all of that increase . . . in possession offenses." However, the study found that only one in 18 of such arrests resulted in a felony conviction, which meant that roughly $4 billion per year was being spent alone on busting people for minor pot violations. One estimate is that the state and local costs per arrest for pot violations average each $10,400.

Yet, American authorities keep busting away despite the substantial evidence that growing arrest rates and harsh sentences do nothing to lower the use or production of marijuana. In fifteen states a nonviolent marijuana offense can result in a life sentence. A single pot plant in Montana can draw a life sentence for a first offense. That's nothing compared to the feds who can execute a first time offender for growing or having enough marijuana plants (60,000).

In 2004 the Office of National Drug Control Policy issued a report entitled "The Economic Costs of Drug Abuse in the United States." That report had estimates for the costs of fighting drugs versus the negative monetary impact of drug use as measured by premature death, health care, productivity, institutionalization, health care, and property damage. Nearly 70% of the actual monetary costs of drug use were lost productivity and wages from incarceration, being sick, turning to crime and dying.

What the study found was that over a ten-year period from 1992 to 2002 that it cost approximately three times as much money to wage a war on drugs as the actual monetary negative costs of drug use. For example, in 2002 it cost an estimated $148.62 billion to fight drugs while the negative economic impact was estimated to have only been $44.73 billion. That's more than $100 billion difference. For the ten-year period study, there was more than a trillion dollars difference between the cost of war on drugs and the actual monetary damage done by illegal drugs in America. Or, given the current estimate of the American deficit at a tad more than $ eight and a half trillion, wasted money on the war on drugs accounts for approximately 11-12% of the record deficit.

On the other hand, economic professor Jeffrey A. Miron estimated that legalizing and taxing pot like any other product would yield $2.4 billion annually. Tax pot like booze or cigarettes and that the tax revenue would be $6.2 billion annually. Of course, pot advocates could argue that the medical research on marijuana show it to be nowhere as medically harmful as either alcohol or tobacco.

Right now, the United States faces prison overcrowding, largely due to proliferation of people for drug offenses. Other prisoners, including violent offenders, are being paroled early or having their sentences shortened to make room for drug users and dealers. Peoples lives are being ruined, the cost is out of hand, and people are spending more than ever on drugs. Meanwhile, demagogic politicians, the religious right and big drug dealers all agree on one thing: keep the course.

<small>Authors Bio: B. 1952, GA, USA. D. To Be Determined. Beloved husband of Native American artist Karen Coronado, father, grandfather, and friend of many from bikers to Zen masters; American writer and speaker, known for his criticism of Mammon's unholy trinity of big business, big government and big religion; served the least of them professionally as psychologist and voluntarily as activist for decades; loved to shoot basketball, billiards and the bull; lived free, died game. (memorial sketch by</span>

User avatar
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2769
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2006 6:38 pm
Location: Santa Cruz, California

Return to federal

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest