This will probably be the buzz of the day on the policy reform blogs. Pot is called biggest cash crop. The latest government figures provide more proof of the value of marijuana. Estimated at $35-billion, using a very conservative criteria, the market value of U.S.-grown cannabis tops that of such heartland staples as corn and hay.
The report estimates that marijuana production has increased tenfold in the past quarter century despite an exhaustive anti-drug effort by law enforcement.The prohibitionists of course counter his logic with illogic.
Jon Gettman, the report's author, is a public policy consultant. 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.
"Despite years of effort by law enforcement, they're not getting rid of it," Gettman said. "Not only is the problem worse in terms of magnitude of cultivation, but production has spread all around the country. To say the genie is out of the bottle is a profound understatement."
Tom Riley, a spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, cited examples of foreign countries that have struggled with big crops used to produce cocaine and heroin. "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," Riley said. "I don't know why we would venture down that road."One might remind Mr. Riley that in those countries, the plants are still illegal as well. It rather proves the point that prohibition causes more harm than good, rather than disproving it.