Marijuana Is Officially California’s Largest Cash Crop

Golden State's grows $26.6 BILLION of marijuana per year.

cash crop
Photo by Noah Buscher via Unsplash

What would America eat and drink without California’s cash crop farms vineyards and orchards?

It’s no surprise that California leads the United State in cash farm receipts with a whopping $47 billion in 2014.  The state provides the nation with 99 percent of artichokes, 99 percent of walnuts, 97 percent of plums, 95 percent of celery and 95 percent of garlic.

But that $47 billion doesn’t even include California’s’ largest cash crop: Cannabis. According to a report last week, the Golden State’s marijuana growers provide $26.6 billion in revenues, making it No. 1 — and it’s not even close.

Here is a look at the top 1o California crops, using the 2014 harvest data:

  1. Milk — $6.29 billion
  2. Almonds — $5.33 billion
  3. Grapes — $4.95 billion
  4. Cattle, Calves — $3.39 billion
  5. Lettuce — $2.25 billion 
  6. Strawberries — $1.86 billion
  7. Tomatoes — $1.71 billion
  8. Poultry/Eggs — $1.7 billion
  9. Walnuts — $977 million
  10. Hay — $945 million

If you add all up, the grand total is $27.7 billion. Cannabis, which was just legalized in November is only $1.1 billion less than the entire top 10 COMBINED.

The $26.6 billion figure for marijuana, reported by the Orange County Register, is an estimate that is disputed by some industry insiders.

Troy Dayton, CEO of ArcView, a cannabis research company, estimates California generated $2.8 billion in medical-cannabis sales in 2015, which accounted for  62 percent of all medical-marijuana sales in the U.S. in 2015. Dayton estimates the state’s cannabis crop will be worth $6.5 billion by 2020 — only about a third of the Register’s figures.

Why the huge discrepancy? Here’s how Phillip Smith, author of the Drug War Chronicle, explains the variance:

The newspaper extrapolated from seizures of pot plants, which have averaged more than two million a year in the state for the past five years, and, citing the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, used the common heuristic that seizures account for only 10 percent to 20 percent of drugs produced. That led it to an estimate of 13.2 million plants grown in the state in 2015 (with 2.6 million destroyed), based on the high-end 20 percent figure.

It then assumed that each plant would produce one pound of pot at a market price of $1,765 a pound. Outdoor plans can produce much more than a pound, but indoor plants may only produce a few ounces, so the one-pound average figure is safely conservative.

But no matter how you add it up, California is country’s cannabis king and the crop — and will be for the foreseeable future.

 

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