Cannabis is the fifth most valuable crop in the U.S., according to Leafly’s first-ever Cannabis Harvest Report. The report looked at cannabis production numbers in the 11 states where both medical and adult-use cannabis are available to customers and found 13,042 cannabis farm licenses in those states grow 2,278 metric tons (5.02 million pounds) of cannabis annually.
That is the equivalent of 57 Olympic-size swimming pools or more than 11,000 dump trucks stretching 36 miles — and over 2 billion joints — the report says. The $6.175 billion worth of cannabis produced annually in the U.S. puts the crop ahead of cotton and peanuts.
The authors note despite these staggering numbers, cannabis sales are rarely tracked by state or federal officials.
“Our goal with the Leafy Harvest Report is to quantify annual cannabis production in operational adult-use states, just like the USDA’s Economic Research Service does for all non-cannabis crops. This is the first time anyone’s done this, as far as we know. Voters, lawmakers, and industry leaders need these basic facts to make informed decisions.” — Leafly in a press release
The report found only corn, soybeans, hay, and wheat topped cannabis’s cash crop numbers. Although still federally illegal, cannabis ranked number one in value in Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon; and its crop value ranked no lower than fifth in the 11 states analyzed. Colorado sells the most cannabis annually, 657 metric tons, while California is close behind with 514 metric tons in yearly sales, the Leafly harvest tally found.
The paper highlights the inadequate banking and insurance options available to cannabis farmers and the enormous amount of money and time spent navigating regulatory roadblocks even before the plants are in the ground.
“America’s adult-use wholesale cannabis crop returned a mind-boggling $6.175 billion to farmers last year, ranking it as the 5th most valuable crop in the United States. Yet, due to federal prohibition, America does not treat cannabis farmers like farmers,” said David Downs, the report’s lead author, and Leafly’s California Bureau Chief. “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. 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.”
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