According to figures recently released by The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), our current administration's heartfelt plans for the eradication of marijuana have gone awry.
Thanks to a bumper marijuana harvest, increased indoor growing, and a drop in the price of corn, an illegal crop has become our country's most valuable crop for the first time in history. It is, however, not the sort of groundbreaking trend the Drug Enforcement Agency has been hoping for.
NORML estimated the worth of the 1985 harvest at $18.6 billion, a $2 billion increase over 1984. California, Hawaii and Oregon are by far the largest producers. Also increasing is the percentage of marijuana grown in the United States versus the amount imported from abroad. Last year, 60% of the marijuana sold in this country was home-grown, an increase of 5% over 1984.
NORML's figures are based on a careful "trend analysis" of advertising, grow light sales, sales of marijuana grow books, local media reports, personal interviews, and agricultural conditions.
Estimated Agricultural Crop Values In The United States, 1985 Crop $ Value of Production 1 Marijuana* 18,600,000,000 2 Corn for Grain 18,582,500,000 3 Soybeans 10,183,500,000 4 Hay 9,980,500,000 5 Wheat 7,256,500,000 6 Sorghum 3,820,500,000 7 Cotton 3,705,100,000 8 Tobacco 2,744,800,000 9 Potatoes 1,363,400,000 10 Rice 1,014,000,000 Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture - Crop Reporting Board, Agricultural Prices, Washington, D.C., October 31, 1985. U.S. Department of Agriculture - Crop Reporting Board, Crop Production, Washington, D.C., October 10, 1985. All prices are farmgate prices, i.e., prices received by farmers. *Marijuana crop value is estimated by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) from published reports, news articles, personal interviews, law enforcement estimates, trend analysis, consumer analysis and grower analysis.
[End]Portland NORML notes:
The color graphic that dominates the original April 1986 High Times article might get scanned and posted here someday, but in the meantime a description will have to suffice. The graphic shows a map of all 50 states, with seven different colors denoting the "Estimated Value Marijuana Crops 1985 ($1000) Per State." No weight figures are provided.
Only one state, California, is denoted by the color orange-red, representing the highest of the seven values, 2,550,000. Thus one can infer that NORML's estimate for the value of California's crop in 1985 was $2.55 billion.
Only two states, Oregon and Hawaii, are colored red-magenta, denoting the second-highest of the seven values, 1,000,000-1,150,000. Thus one can infer NORML's estimate for the value of the domestic marijuana harvest in Oregon in 1985 was between $1 billion and $1.15 billion.
Although National NORML has not tried to place a value on domestically grown marijuana since 1993, its estimates used to be considerably more accurate than those of the Drug Enforcement Agency. For example, in 1982 the DEA reported at the end of the year that it had eradicated more marijuana than it had estimated Americans consumed at the beginning of the year.
Given the DEA's results-oriented bias in reporting, it is understandable that in 1996, as this is posted, the latest news from the DEA ("Marijuana Information Packet," Drugs & Crime Data, April 1995, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drugs & Crime Clearinghouse, 1-800-666-3332) does not even attempt to estimate current domestic production. (The same packet does estimate production in many other countries, however.) Instead, the April 1995 "Marijuana Information Packet" cites only its 1992 estimate, in inconvenient metric tonnage...:
It is very difficult to estimate the amount of marijuana actually produced in the United States in 1993 as there are no national surveys conducted of outdoor cannabis cultivation. [They don't even want to think about indoor cultivation - Portland NORML] In 1992, there was an estimated gross 6,000 to 6,500 metric tons cultivated (does not include low-potency wild ditchweed plants). However, this figure is considered to be inexact. Approximately 1,840.2 metric tons representing 4.04 million cultivated plants were eradicated in 1993. Domestic seizures of cannabis and marijuana totalled 394 metric tons compared to 347 metric tons in 1992. ("Production," p. 62, ibid., quoting from the National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee, The NNICC Report 1993, The Supply of Illicit Drugs to the United States, August 1994.)The same federal report, on page 60, includes a chart on "U.S. Marijuana Prices" showing the government's estimate of the wholesale value of sinsemilla to be $650 to $9,600 a pound in 1992 - quite a wide range. The accompanying text states:
During the 1980's, prices for a pound of commercial grade marijuana ranged from $350 to $600. In 1993, the price ranged from $1,000 to $9,500 per pound, though the sale price typically did not fall below $1,500 a pound.No more precise nationwide breakdown of 1992 prices is offered.
As reported in past Portland NORML weekly news releases, the price of sinsemilla has been stable at about $250 an ounce since the early 1990s, but can frequently cost up to $350 an ounce, depending on quality. That would mean the "retail" value of a 16-ounce pound would be $4,000 to $5,600. Hence, an average wholesale or "farmgate" value of $3,000 per pound for domestically grown marijuana seems a quite reasonable, even conservative figure with which to compute the ensuing estimates. The figure of $3,000 per pound is also near the low end of the government's estimated range of $1,000 to $9,500, and consistent with anecdotal information reported by such sources as High Times' monthly market quotes and the Price Report Project, an internet-based effort to monitor the street prices of marijuana and other illicit drugs internationally.
According to Webster's dictionary, a metric ton equals 2,204.6 pounds. Thus the government's estimate (above) that "In 1992, there was an estimated gross 6,000 to 6,500 metric tons cultivated" would mean domestic cultivators grew 6,000 x 2,204.6 = 13,227,600 pounds to 6,500 x 2,204.6 = 14,329,900 pounds. At $3,000 per pound, the government's estimate would thus mean the value of the domestic marijuana harvest would be worth between $3,000 x 13,227,600 pounds and $3,000 x 14,329,900 pounds, or between $39,682,800,000 and $42,989,700,000 - about $39.6 billion to $43 billion.
The vast majority of the commercial marijuana harvested in Oregon is probably sinsemilla, which is worth at least two to three times as much as seeded marijuana. (After the marijuana consumer removes the many seeds from his or her less-expensive, imported product, he or she is reportedly left with an amount of usable material that weighs and is worth about the same as sinsemilla.) For obvious economic reasons, cloned sinsemilla is said to be almost the only type of marijuana grown in indoor gardens around the nation, and the most recent evidence at hand suggests outdoor growers elsewhere in the United States similarly strive to produce seedless harvests. (It's not clear if law enforcement always subtracts males - which outdoor growers generally kill before maturity - in its eradication tallies, but that is just one variable revealing the speculative nature of measuring proscribed behaviors.)
The cautious reader may want to revise the estimate above to show the value of the domestic marijuana harvest after police confiscations. As the quote above from the April 1995 "Marijuana Information Packet" states, "Domestic seizures of cannabis and marijuana totalled ... 347 metric tons in 1992." Multiplied by 2,204.6, those 347 metric tons would equal 764,996.2 pounds. Multiplied by $3,000 per pound, that would mean law-enforcement agencies reduced the value of the American pot harvest by $2,294,988,600, or just over $2 billion, to between ($39,682,800,000 minus $2,294,988,600 equals) $37,387,812,400 and ($42,989,700,000 minus $2,294,988,600 equals) $40,694,712,400, or about $37.3 billion to $40 billion.
Apparently the DEA has published figures for this period that are actually near the high end of that estimate. Although Portland NORML does not have the source documents, California Lawyer in September 1994 cited DEA figures "reveal[ing] that domestic pot production is worth $42 billion yearly. According to DEA estimates ... America's consumers spend more green on smoke than on the silver screen: Pot's contribution to the gross national product dwarfs the motion picture industry's 1992 receipts of $26 billion and the television industry's paltry $18 billion.
In summary, even though the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse suggests that marijuana use declined steadily after 1979, supposedly reaching a post-Vietnam-era low in 1992, the government's own figures strongly imply that domestic production of marijuana rose in that period, more than doubling in estimated value from $18.6 billion just in 1985 to somewhere between $37.3 billion and $43 billion as long ago as 1992. Even after discounting inflation and population increases, the available evidence and the overall trend suggest that despite (or perhaps because of) unprecedented arrests, incarcerations and "just say no" campaigns, marijuana has become even more entrenched as America's No. 1 crop.
If one assumes a 100 percent increase in the value of domestic marijuana production between 1985 and 1992, it would seem reasonable to infer that the 1992 value of Oregon's harvest increased to between $2 billion and $2.3 billion, from $1 billion to $1.15 billion in 1985.
Since 1992, there is little reason to think the value of domestically grown marijuana has declined, either in Oregon or the nation at large. An upward trend from the 1980s to 1992 in estimated values of domestic harvests is acknowledged by everyone from the DEA to High Times. Population has increased, particularly in Oregon, and there have been widespread reports that marijauna use has increased since 1992.
If one accounts for the federal government's widely noted tendency to underestimate illicit-drug figures, the actual numbers are likely to be greater - possibly far greater - rather than less.
Unfortunately, neither the NORML nor government documents at hand attempt to estimate the number of Americans who cultivate marijuana.
Selective Prosecution in the Five-County Portland Area
In 1993, drug law enforcement officials seized 3,347 indoor grow operations, down from 3,849 seized in 1992. Indoor cultivation sites were seized in all 50 states, though operations in California, Florida, Illinois, Oregon and Washington accounted for 40 percent of the indoor cultivation sites seized nationwide. -- "Production," p. 63, "Marijuana Information Packet," Drugs & Crime Data, April 1995, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drugs & Crime Clearinghouse, 1-800-666-3332, quoting from the National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee, The NNICC Report 1993, The Supply of Illicit Drugs to the United States, August 1994.
According to the 1995 Annual Report issued by the Portland Police Drugs and Vice Division, the local Marijuana Task Force made 302 arrests and shut down 216 grow operations from its inception on Feb. 28, 1995 through an unspecified date in ealy 1996. That means the particular Marijuana Task Force which covers Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Clark and Skamania counties (there is at least one other task force that covers just Clark and Skamania counties) recently accounted for 6.45 percent of all the grow operations in the United States that were busted just two years earlier (216 of 3,347). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the total population of the five counties in 1995 was 1,605,650. The total population of the United States in the same period was about 263 million. What that means is, unless arrest patterns changed significantly in two years, about 6.45 percent of all the busts are taking place among about .6 percent of the population (six-tenths of one percent).
Selective Prosecution in the Five-County Portland Area
Additional information on the methodological problems
involved in DEA estimates of domestic marijuana cultivation,
from Jon Gettman
Return-Path: Gettman_J@mediasoft.net Received: from server.mediasoft.net (server.mediasoft.net [188.8.131.52]) by desiree.teleport.com (8.7.5/8.7.3) with SMTP id TAA22233 for
; Sun, 28 Jul 1996 19:16:40 -0700 (PDT) Received: from ras137.mediasoft.net by server.mediasoft.net (NTMail 3.01.03) id ia247892; Sun, 28 Jul 1996 22:16:24 -0400 Message-Id: Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" To: email@example.com From: Gettman_J@mediasoft.net (Jon Gettman) Subject: Re: $42 billion figure Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Sun, 28 Jul 1996 22:16:24 -0400 X-Info: MediaSoft Internet Services X-UIDL: 20b4a2d323f6c3068e0363b879bf0448 I can speak to any details of any NORML report on domestic marijuana cultivation from 1986 on because I did them all. The last one I did was in 1993, and I reviewed the domestic cannabis eradication program from 1982 to 1992. With each report, I tried to improve the estimation method used. The $42 billion figure comes from an estimation model which was subsequently improved. The last report, released in 1993, is the one I think is most accurate. However, I think an estimate of $10 to $20 billion is more realistic, and the range depends on whether one takes a conservative or generous view of the assumptions implicit in making such an estimate. The DEA would eradicate a particular amount of marijuana in a year, and then claim they eradicated x% of the crop. I would look at the data and make my own guess that they were being too optimistic, and that they eradicated y% of the crop. Plug in assumptions about average yield per plant, market value, and some other factors, and one can convert % eradicated into value of crop harvested. In this type of model, the DEA assumption of 1 pound/plant really skews the estimate upward. After the model produced the $42 billion figure, I revised it to reflect more realistic assumptions. (And yes, the DEA has clung to such a estimate for years, and used it to skew estimated production from cultivation busts to ridiculously high figures.) DEA no longer makes such an estimate, and for that matter neither do I. At this point it is safe to say that the domestic marijuana crop can neither be estimated nor eradicated. Jon
Return-Path: Gettman_J@mediasoft.net Received: from server.mediasoft.net (server.mediasoft.net [184.108.40.206]) by desiree.teleport.com (8.7.5/8.7.3) with SMTP id GAA10334 for
; Tue, 30 Jul 1996 06:04:20 -0700 (PDT) Received: from ras133.mediasoft.net by server.mediasoft.net (NTMail 3.01.03) id ga248488; Tue, 30 Jul 1996 09:04:08 -0400 Message-Id: Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" Date: Tue, 30 Jul 1996 09:05:01 -0400 To: email@example.com From: Gettman_J@mediasoft.net (Jon Gettman) Subject: Re: More on crop estimation X-Info: MediaSoft Internet Services X-UIDL: f405e9c1faffb67661cda2b403e1d7e9 Excerpts from "Cannabis Suppression and Marijuana Crop Value" by Jon Gettman Note: this excerpt refers to exhibits from the full report; those exhibits have not been included. 11) Self Evaluation by the DEA The DEA thinks that if they go out and seize millions of marijuana plants, they're doing a good job. Every year the program is a success, often because their self-created indicators have gone up - more plants, more grow rooms, more seizures, etc. For example: "The increase in the number of plots and plants eradicated during 1985 is attributable to an increase in eradication efforts (manpower/financial) and refined reporting procedures as well an increase in public awareness and public participation in the overall drug abuse prevention program." 1 At this time the NDEPB was warning of the dangers in getting caught up in too zealous of a prosecution policy, a warning that was to be ignored. "The systematic destruction of illegal plots requires an extensive commitment of manpower, which cannot be siphoned off by futile attempts to determine the ownership of each plot."2 They provided a 20 point prescription for greater program success: "1) look for large organizations 2) target significant states 3) keep 50 state program 4) make the locals get the ditchweed 5) upgrade intelligence 6) increase aviation 7) states should pick up surplus DoD equipment 8) encourage states to use more small aircraft 9) encourage growers to inform on patch pirates and violent growers 10) enhance prosecutions 11) increase penalties for cultivation over 100 plants 12) exempt from liability from loaned DoD equipment unless grossly negligent 13) DEA staff get less brownie points for cannabis eradication - change that 14) standardize sentencing 15) improve inter-agency cooperation 16) expand training program 17) prevent leaks like the Delta 9 leaks in August 85 18) build public support with PR 19) invite foreign media to view eradication efforts 20) use herbicides, if they can"3 The DEA incorporated most of these points into their activities in subsequent years, except they zealously included increasing prosecutions and asset forfeiture. They still measured success by increasing indicators, such as: "In 1987 we had an increase . . . in the number of sinsemilla plants that were destroyed . . .in the number of cultivated plants eradicated. . . (and) in the total number of arrests, greenhouses operations, weapons and assets seized. . . . The overall 1987 Domestic Eradication Program was a great success. In 1988 we will strive for increased follow-up investigations and to increase the value of assets seized."4 While the DEA portrays their work with a sense of pride and accomplishment, every now and then they publish comments that indicate the enormity of the task before the cannabis eradication program and the inadequacy of their efforts. For example: "Also there were not enough resources available to eradicate all the marijuana plants that were located." 5 In 1988 they admitted that "More fields were located through citizen complaints than by random aerial searches,"6 bringing into question the cost effectiveness of aerial searches, despite the strategic reliance on helicopter and fixed wing flights. The DEA has continually had problems with the physical eradication of discovered marijuana. "The manpower required to accomplish the physical destruction of cannabis plots continues to hamper DEA's eradication efforts. The expansion of intelligence gathering and labor-intensive eradication efforts are essential for minimizing the availability of domestically grown cannabis."7 By the late 1980's legal challenges to herbicide use had been exhausted, though the litigation had established stringent rules and regulations for herbicide use. In many respects, the desire to use herbicides in the U.S. was driven as much by foreign policy considerations as by addressing the DEA's manpower problems. "Foreign countries have turned to the United States for leadership in narcotic and drug enforcement because of its support for herbicidal eradication of opium and cannabis in source countries throughout the world. The United States resolve is to employ these same eradication techniques, which have been questionable to some against domestic produced marijuana. During the past year the traditional manual eradication of cannabis was supplemented with an ambitious herbicidal spray operation in Hawaii. These techniques should send a strong message to cannabis producing countries."8 Despite the use of forfeiture, mandatory/minimums, herbicides, and the use the National Guard and other federal agencies, and after over ten years of zealous eradication activity, the DEA is left by 1990 to defending its defining concept rather than its accomplishments. "It is estimated that about 25 percent of the marijuana consumed in the United States is produced domestically. Adequate effort and resources must be expended to deal with the threat. The concept of this program must be pursued. Continued support from all will ensure a proactive posture in dealing with this illicit phenomenon."9 Nonetheless, "DEA's goal is to significantly reduce the availability of cannabis in the United States."10 In a complete shift from the seizure driven policies of the mid 1980's, the new forfeiture driven eradication program favors arrests. "DEA's suppression policies will require a near-term focus on pursuing the producers, rather than the product. If successful, this policy will change to targeting distribution networks. The emphasis will be to vigorously eliminate organizations by increased arrests and seizures."11 From the DEA's perspective, no one really understands how important it is to prosecute and incarcerate marijuana cultivators. So, the "DEA will educate Federal and state prosecutors and the judiciary on the importance of deterrence in national and international cases."12 They will also "assist domestic demand reduction efforts by raising public awareness about the harmful effects of marijuana use. DEA, in cooperation with the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), will aggressively publicize research findings on the hazards of high-THC products."13 Clearly, the DEA realized they had a credibility problem that was continuing to grow - they could only justify their growing seizures, $38 million in 1990, if the public believed marijuana was a dangerous drug. It is not a coincidence that the DEA began a new propaganda campaign in 1990. As reviewed above, in 1989 one of their own Administrative Law Judges ruled in a petition brought by NORML and other parties that marijuana had medical value and should be made medically available. Judge Francis Young stated that the evidence convinced him that marijuana was one of the safest drugs known to man. The DEA has politicized the marijuana issue sufficiently to suggest their opposition to medical use of marijuana is solely based on fear that it will undercut their prosecution and seizure program. In his 1990 National Drug Strategy William Bennett called the domestic marijuana cultivation situation "intolerable" and called for an increase in funding from $8 million to $16 million in 1990 to wipe it out. He claimed that success against domestic cultivation "should be a bench mark of national anti-drug resolve." 14 The DEA was able to triple their funding of local eradication efforts in 1991 and 1992, with no appreciable increase in the number of seizures either year.15 (See Exhibit 2.) Despite all the problems detailed above, and the need to involve so many other agencies and resources over the years, the DEA has always maintained that it seized a large percentage of the marijuana grown in the United States. "Officially, the DEA maintains it eradicated half the U.S. crop, although privately law enforcers say they snagged only 10 to 40 percent of the total."16 A California based DEA agent claims that outdoor growing in the state has been reduced by 3/4 .17 Kentucky state police believe they seize no more than half of the marijuana grown in the state, and they have the most aggressive campaign in the country after Hawaii's.18 Statistically speaking, if one of the most aggressive programs only seizes half of the cultivated marijuana, it is impossible for the entire program to seize half of the country's production. Cultivation is too diffuse to average 50% in every eradication program, and few states will boast of eradicating that much of the marijuana crop. Perhaps it is for this reason that the DEA claims they aim to get 70% of the Tennessee marijuana crop annually, and that it is the fourth most successful in the country. 19 Regardless of the DEA's success rate, or lack thereof, "Domestically grown marijuana accounted for 10% of all marijuana in 1980 this has increased to 25% in 1992, with a production estimate of 4500 - 5300 metric tons. "20 Under these circumstances, with no end in sight, the DEA still maintains that: "the program is working. We are doing a measurable good job in most of the states. With continued dedication, next year we can plan to strike even harder and keep even more of the marijuana from reaching the market.""21 12) DEA estimates of domestic marijuana crop The DEA does not have a good track record in estimating the size of marijuana crops. "Tip of the iceberg" anecdotes are common, suggesting that any estimate offered by the DEA be increased several fold. The DEA method for estimating domestic marijuana production was first stated in regard to the tip of the iceberg story which began this report. "Using a relatively accurate plant count and conservative weight per plant factors, it is estimated that 1653 metric tons of marketable marihuana were eradicated. The strategic intelligence estimate for 1981 domestic marihuana production was 1200 metric tons. Therefore, the program shows that in 1982, 38% more domestic marihuana was eradicated than was previously believed to exist. Although a total U.S. marihuana production figure is not easily determined, the statistics obtained from this program reveal, without doubt, that the United States is becoming a major source for the drug."22 They also explicitly listed the plant yield criteria they attributed to current cultivation. "To arrive at an estimated weight of marketable marihuana for that which was eradicated, the following factors are used: One sinsemilla plant yields two pounds of marketable material; one regular marihuana plant yields one pound of marihuana. These factors are considered conservative."23 The DEA regularly prints a disclaimer in its reports suggesting that such estimating was only acceptable when the DEA itself engages in it. "It should be noted that the total figure of sightings in this report by no means represents the total number of plots under cultivation in the United States and no attempt should be made to correlate the two." 24 A revised comment shows up in every subsequent report. However, consider this: "In 1989, 5, 605,460 marijuana plants weighing approximately 2,548 metric tons (MT), were eradicated. DEA estimates that 50% of the domestic marijuana is being eradicated. This would indicate that approximately 5,096 MT of marijuana was cultivated in the United States in 1989."25 This is making a correlation between the number of plants seized and the total number of plants grown in the United States. Furthermore, the statement is an outright falsehood. In every other context except this specific report, the DEA domestic estimate is expressed as a net figure, what was not seized. In this context, they present the figure as a gross figure. This incorrectly minimizes the size of the market in comparison to other years. The NNICC report for 1989 tactfully ignores this slight of hand, and publishes a net figure of 5000 to 6000 metric tons.26 This indicates that they hold that roughly 8000 metric tons were grown, the DEA eradicated 2500 mt, and 5500 mt was harvested. This places the DEA's seizure percentage at about 30% of the crop, not the 50% they claim in their own report. Perhaps they made a mistake, and it is only a coincidence that it is so self-serving. A recent report by a DEA agent in California calculates the value of cannabis in California assuming that they only seize 10% of the actual crop.27 The DEA's ability to seize a large percentage of the marijuana grown in the U.S. was called into question above. Their estimates of U.S. production are called into question here. In the mid 1980s the DEA maintained that U.S. production was only 12% of the country's consumption. "Anecdotal evidence suggests that the 12% estimate may be low. Projections made by a senior U.S. Forest Service official indicate that domestic production could be about 50% of U.S. supply. In addition, the Oregon Deputy Attorney General, in testimony before the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, stated that the correct figure "may be as high as 50%." During the interviews conducted. . .officials offered estimates ranging from 30% to 60%. It is important to emphasize that these high estimates are impressions rather than conclusions based on firm data."28 When the DEA estimated that domestic cultivation provided 12% of U.S. consumption in 1984, they estimated production at 2100 metric tons. In 1984 the Mexican police raided five separate large scale growing sites in Mexico belonging to a consortium reputedly led by Caro Quintero. They seized over 2000 metric tons of marijuana, "8 times more marijuana than Mexican and American authorities at the time believed was produced annually throughout Mexico."29 Regardless of the historical accuracy of DEA's estimates, there is no dispute today that domestically grown marijuana represents tens of billions of dollars of economic activity. "At minimum, this business is worth $20 billion to $30 billion a year," says John Sutton, chief of DEA's cannabis investigations branch (KY)30 The DEA has estimated that domestic growers have harvested 10 million pounds annually since 1988. (See Exhibit 8.) Their data, without corrections, would place the 1992 crop value at $26.8 billion. 13) Corrected Estimates of Domestic Marijuana Crop Estimates of the national marijuana crop which are based on DEA plant seizures must allow and correct for the following variables: amount of ditchweed, if any, counted as cultivated plants, the number of males, the yield of a marijuana plant, the price of marijuana, and the success rate the DEA attained with their seizures. In 1988 Hawaii spent $174 per square mile in the state eradicating marijuana, and the Attorney General estimated that they only seized 20% of the available crop.31 The vast numbers of plants eradicated annually are impressive until rated by the sizes of each state. The DEA has distributed $10 to $13 million to states annually for the last three years to subsidize eradication programs. In Hawaii, one of the most intensive eradication efforts, these federal funds amount to over $80/sq. mi. An investment of time and money of the magnitude returns seizures of about 65 per sq. mi. In Kentucky and Tennessee, the federal dollars amount to about $15 per square mile, and the programs seize about 22 plants per square mile. In Missouri, they spent $7 per square mile, but in 1992 only seized .76 plants per sq. mi. Most of the federal funds went to eradicating ditchweed. Marijuana can be grown anywhere, and generally is. Eradicating it is an expensive proposition. The fact is, the government just hasn't made an adequate investment in eradication activities. Consideration of program seizures on a sq. mi. basis has contributed to this reports estimation of the success rate of the seizures in each state. Programs as intensive as that in Hawaii, California, Kentucky, and Tennessee are credited with the highest percentage of seizures, 20 to 50%. While the success percentage is a subjective criteria, it does reflect quantitative data from ranking plant seizures by land area. This reports estimates that the DEA only seized 25% of the marijuana grown nationwide. Using a price index from High Times magazine, the estimates of the number of males, and the estimated yield per plant as discussed below, this report estimates the value of domestic marijuana to be $27.8 billion. See Exhibit 10. While this figure is about the same as produced by taking the DEA data at face value, it is based on a much different assessment of the DEA's activities and effect on the marketplace. Specifically, DEA overestimates the value of the plants they seize and their own success rate in eradicating marijuana plants around the country. 14) Comparable Value Exhibit 11 details the value of legal agricultural crops, and their financial yield per acre. Exhibit 12 details the value of top crops in individual states. Marijuana, if legal, would still outgross all of these crops. Assume 520 female marijuana plants on one acre with wide walkways between the plants. The plants have adequate spacing, and easy access for care. At a yield of one pound per plant, and only $150 per pound, this acre of land has produced $78,000. If the price collapses to $15 per pound, the acre has still out grossed other crops by providing $7,800. Marijuana is a multi-use plant, providing fiber, pulp, fuel, and other raw materials in addition to the valuable flowertops. Conclusion: When the price of oil is high, everybody in the business looks to drill as much as they can. When the price of marijuana is high, growers look to grow anywhere they can. The DEA eradication/suppression program has become a market force which encourages proliferation, creativity, and profitability among domestic marijuana growers. The DEA responses to the ongoing proliferation of marijuana cultivation in the United States has been to distort facts and research to enhance their own power and enforcement capabilities. In many respects, it can be argued that the domestic cannabis eradication/suppression program has become a permit for the DEA to lie, cheat and steal. Presumably the reports on this program have been provided to the U.S. Congress. The reports deceive the congress and the public on the significance of the plants they seize, as well as their yield, potency, value, and harmfulness. The DEA has consistently exaggerated their accomplishments in order to increase their funding, and exaggerated the threat and danger of marijuana use and cultivation to justify severe prison terms for many personal use growers and to justify their ongoing seizure of millions of dollars of assets belonging to private citizens. This is an unconscionable program. The operation of this program is not conducted in accordance with democratic values, nor is the program in our national interest. By its own standards, the program is counterproductive and an utter failure. 1) DEA 1985, pg 4 2) NDEPB 1986b, pg 48 3) ibid 4) DEA 1987, pg 1 5) ibid, pg 4 6) DEA 1988, pg 21 7) DEA 1989, pg 4 8) DEA 1990, pg 3 9) ibid, pg 26 10) ibid, pg 32 11) ibid, pg 33 12) ibid, pg 33 13) ibid, pg 33 14) U.S. News & World Reports, 11/16/89 15) DEA, 1992 16) Insight Magazine 7/1/91, pg 13 17) Insight Magazine 7/1/91, pg 17 18) Wall Street Journal 12/24/92. Appalachian Kentucky Relies on Marijuana To Buttress Economy by Joe Davidson. 19) The Tennessean 12/6/92. State turns top crop into billion-dollar debris. Sunday Special: Marijuana in Tennessee. 20) DEA 1992, pg 1 21) ibid, pg 28 22) DEA 1982, pg iii (emphasis in original) 23) DEA 1982, pg 5 24) DEA 1983, pg 5 25) DEA 1989, pg 4 26) NNICC, 1989 27) Stowell, 1991 28) NDEPB 1986b, pg 15,16 29) President's Commission on Organized Crime, 1986 30) LA Times News Service: Crop Pot economy rides high 5/17/90 by Douglas Jehl 31) Hawaii Department of the Attorney General 1989
A new 1998 report on the estimated value of domestically produced cannabis was announced by NORML in a news release issued Oct. 15, 1998. Follow the graphic link at the top of this page to the actual report at NORML's web site.]
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