Cannabis is now the 5th most valuable crop being grown in America today, bringing in more money than cotton, rice, or peanuts.
In partnership with Whitney Economics, cannabis discovery marketplace Leafly created its first-ever Cannabis Harvest Report to track the growth of the US legal adult-use industry. To compile the report, analysts collected data from the 11 states that are currently selling both adult-use and medical cannabis. The report follows the standard USDA guidelines for estimating crop values, multiplying each state's average wholesale price by the total amount of weed produced within the most recent 12-month accounting period.
According to the report, these 11 adult-use states are now selling $6.175 billion worth of wholesale cannabis every year, making weed one of the country's top five most lucrative crops. The only crops that remain more valuable than pot are traditional agricultural staples like corn ($61 billion), soybeans ($46 billion), hay ($17.3 billion), and wheat ($9.3 billion). But even though cannabis farmers are making more money than cotton farmers, the federal government still refuses to record or even acknowledge legal pot production.
There are 13,042 state-licensed cannabis cultivators currently operating in these 11 states, and these farms grow an estimated 2,278 metric tons – more than 5 million pounds – of weed every single year. This massive amount of bud could fill 11,000 dump trucks, 57 Olympic-sized swimming pools, or could be rolled into at least 2 billion joints. The wholesale prices for this legal bud vary widely from state to state, from as low as $500 to as high as $3,000 a pound, based on unique market factors in each state.
Cannabis is currently the single most valuable crop being grown in Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon, and it ranks among the top five most lucrative crops in the other six adult-use states. California currently holds the crown for the country's most valuable legal weed crop, having sold an estimated 514 metric tons of pot for $1.66 billion over the past year. Colorado takes second place for wholesale crop value, at $1.03 billion, followed by Michigan ($736 million) and Washington ($653 million).
As impressive as these figures are, they only account for the 11 states that are currently selling adult-use cannabis in 2021. More than two dozen other states have legalized medical marijuana production, though, and a few of these local markets are even more profitable than some states' adult-use industries. Florida sold over a billion dollars worth of medical pot last year, for example, and Oklahoma regularly moves tens of millions worth of medicinal bud every month. Taking these markets into account, it's possible that medical and adult-use weed as a whole are making American farmers more money than wheat.
“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,” said David Downs, lead author of the report and California Bureau Chief for Leafly. “Yet, 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. 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.”