Pubdate: Tue, 19 Dec 2006
Source: Dominican Today (Dominican Republic)
Copyright: 2006 Dominican Today
Cited: The report
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Washington.  U.S. growers produce nearly $35 billion (18 billion
pounds) worth of marijuana annually, making the illegal drug the
country's largest cash crop, bigger than corn and wheat combined, an
advocate of medical marijuana use said in a study released on Monday.

The report, conducted by Jon Gettman, a public policy analyst and
former head of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana
Laws, also concluded that five U.S. states produce more than $1
billion worth of marijuana apiece: California, Tennessee, Kentucky,
Hawaii and Washington.

California's production alone was about $13.8 billion, according to
Gettman, who waged an unsuccessful six-year legal battle to force the
government to remove marijuana from a list of drugs deemed to have no
medical value.

Tom Riley, a spokesman for the U.S. Office of National Drug Control
Policy, said he could not confirm the report's conclusions on the size
of the country's marijuana crop. But he said the government estimated
overall U.S. illegal drug use at $200 billion annually.

Gettman's figures were based on several government reports between
2002 and 2005 estimating the United States produced more than 10,000
metric tons of marijuana annually.

He calculated the producer price per pound of marijuana at $1,606
based on national survey data showing retail prices of between $2,400
and $3,000 between 2001 and 2005.

The total value of 10,000 metric tons of marijuana at $1,606 per pound
would be $35.8 billion.

By comparison, the United States produced an average of nearly $23.3
billion worth of corn annually from 2003 to 2005, $17.6 billion worth
of soybeans, $12.2 billion worth of hay, nearly $11.1 billion worth of
vegetables and $7.4 billion worth of wheat, the report said.

Gettman said the 10-fold increase in U.S. marijuana production, from
1,000 metric tons in 1981 to 10,000 metric tons in 2006, showed the
country was failing to control marijuana by making its cultivation and
use illegal.

"Marijuana has become a pervasive and ineradicable part of the economy
of the United States," he said. "The contribution of this market to
the nation's gross domestic product is overlooked in the debate over
effective control."

"Like all profitable agricultural crops marijuana adds resources and
value to the economy," he added. "The focus of public policy should be
how to effectively control this market through regulation and taxation
in order to achieve immediate and realistic goals, such as reducing
teenage access."

Riley said illegal drug use was a "serious part of the economy," but
he rejected the notion of an economic argument for legalizing marijuana 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake