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Marijuana a bigger US cash crop than corn or hay

RAW STORY
Published: Monday December 18, 2006
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The value of the marijuana grown in the United States is greater than all of the corn or hay produced in the country's agricultural sector, according to a story in today's Los Angeles Times.

The article, by reporter Eric Bailey, quotes a report from Jon Gettman, an independent consultant who used government statistics to show the value of marijuana as a cash crop. The drug's worth exceeds $35 billion, and its illicit cultivation in the US has grown by ten times since 1981.

The US government's response to the report has been that the drug should not be legalized. A representative of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy warned that "Coca is Colombia's largest cash crop and that hasn't worked out for them, and opium poppies are Afghanistan's largest crop, and that has worked out disastrously for them."

The full article can be accessed by registered users at the LA Times website. An excerpt is provided below.

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California is responsible for more than a third of the cannabis harvest, with an estimated production of $23.8 billion that exceeds the value of the state's grapes, vegetables and hay combined and marijuana is the top cash crop in a dozen states, the report states.

The report estimates that marijuana production has increased tenfold in the past quarter century despite an exhaustive anti-drug effort by law enforcement.

Jon Gettman, the report's author, is a public policy consultant and leading proponent of the push to drop marijuana from the federal list of hard-core Schedule 1 drugs which are deemed to have no medicinal value and a high likelihood of abuse such as heroin and LSD.

He argues that the data support his push to begin treating cannabis like tobacco and alcohol by legalizing and reaping a tax windfall from it, while controlling production and distribution to better restrict use by teenagers.