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Study: Cannabis Tops All Alaska Crops

Nov 3, 2021 | Agriculture, News

Engdao Wichitpunya | Dreamstime.com

Move over, hay. Alaska has a new top-selling cash crop, by a lot. Cannabis has a greater wholesale value than all other agricultural commodities in the state combined, according to a study by marijuana hub website Leafly.

A Growing Industry

The study is the first of its kind, mostly because the federal ban on marijuana prevents the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) from tracking the crop like it does corn or soybeans. Leafly’s editors teamed up with cannabis industry consultant Whitney Economics to calculate the cash value of the marijuana harvest in eleven states where the drug is legalized, approximating the same methods the USDA uses to measure the value of other crops.

For Alaska, the study puts the value of the marijuana harvest, as of the end of the fiscal year in June 2021, at $104 million. That dwarfs the $9 million for hay, $1 million for barley, and about $30 million for all other produce and livestock farmed in Alaska.

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Year round, under artificial lights, 356 licensed growers in Alaska raised twenty-one metric ton cannabis for the annual harvest. To calculate the wholesale value, Leafly had to estimate the dried, cured bud, the most common form sold and taxed through legal retailers. The study does not encompass non-consumable hemp.

Among the eleven states with legal marijuana industries, the study found cannabis is the top cash crop in five of them: Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon. Nationwide, the study’s estimate of cannabis wholesale value of $6.2 billion exceeds the totals for cotton, rice, or peanuts. Only corn, soybeans, hay, and wheat are bigger cash crops.

The study notes that the nation’s 13,042 cannabis farms are still subject to restrictions due to federal law criminalizing the drug. Growers are shut out of farm subsidies and crop insurance, and financial transactions are mostly cash only.

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