Cannabis is likely California’s top agricultural crop, besting milk, almonds, grapes, cattle, and lettuce, with an estimated value of $23.3 billion – and that’s not even the legal market figure.
The Orange County Register made the estimate based on seizures of illegal cannabis plants over the last five years. The outlet used the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime estimate that seizures account for 10 to 20 percent of all plants being grown which adds up to an estimated 13.2 million plants being grown in California based on the high-end 20 percent. The analysis estimates that each plant would produce, conservatively, one pound worth $1,765 – which might be optimistic for larger producers of outdoor-grown cannabis. California leads all states in illegal plant seizures – its 2.64 million plants seized in 2015 represent more than half of the 4.26 million seized nationwide. Kentucky is the runner-up in total plants seized during 2015, with 571,340.
For a comparison with California’s other crops in 2015, milk was worth $6.29 billion, almond sales totaled $5.33 billion, grapes accounted for $4.95 billion, cattle and calves reached $3.39 billion, with lettuce rounding out the top five with $2.25 billion.
According to ArcView Group research figures, California’s medical market was worth $2.8 billion in 2015 and the state’s legal market could be worth a total of $6.5 billion by 2020.