With the legalization of marijuana across many states, it’s no surprise that the once-illegal plant has quickly become a cash crop in the US.
But it’s not just worth money; it’s valuable for various reasons.
And it has officially become the 6th most valuable crop in the US, surpassing many well-loved food and animal feed staples. Only corn, soybeans, hay, wheat, and cotton bring more value to the economy per year.
But because it’s still illegal on the federal level, farmers lack protection and struggle to manage wholesale production. Their businesses can’t have bank accounts, and they can’t obtain crop insurance or get loans.
A yearly harvest report published by cannabis information resource/marketplace Leafly found that adult-use cannabis farmers grew over 2,800 metric tons of adult-use cannabis across 15 legal states in 2022. Leafly’s calculations only include adult-use cannabis in legal farms, so crops for medical cannabis and those grown illegally aren’t included in the analysis.
That’s a 24% increase over the previous year. But the crop’s value fell by $1B due to the lowering of prices of legal cannabis.
Unfortunately, in 2022, western farmers produced more crops than their market demands, while Midwest and East Coast farmers paid too much for too little supply. Because of the illegal status on a federal level, farmers can’t sell across interstate lines, which drives unequal and uncertain markets.
Despite the apparent popularity and necessity of cannabis as a crop, states and the government continue to plug their ears, close their eyes and pretend it doesn’t exist.