A report into illicit marijuana cultivation in the US says it is now the country's biggest cash crop, having seen a tenfold increase in production over the last 25 years.
DrugScience.org's Marijuana Production in the United States puts the annual harvest at 10,000 tonnes, worth a cool $35.8bn (£18.4bn). Corn, meanwhile, weighs in at a mere $23bn, with soybeans marking up $17.6bn and hay a paltry $12.2bn. Dope is apparently the "biggest cash crop in 12 states", injecting more into the Georgia economy than peanuts and blowing away tobacco in North and South Carolina, The Guardian reports.
Unsurprisingly, the main centre for pot production is California, which supplies $13.8bn worth of weed annually.
The principal cause of the boom seems to be drug cartels moving cultivation to the US after increased post-9/11 border security closed traditional smuggling routes from Mexico. They often create plantations in "remote national park land", The Guardian notes.
The conclusion of DrugScience.org's revealing probe is, according to author Jon Gettman, that "the war on drugs is not working". He said: "Illicit marijuana cultivation provides considerable unreported revenue for growers without corresponding tax obligations to compensate the public for the social and fiscal costs related to [its] use."
The logical solution is, Gettman says, to legalise the crop - something which found little favour with the the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He also wants marijuana to be reclassified from its current status as a Schedule 1 drug, a category which includes heroin. ®