Marijuana: California Cops Destroy Pot Worth Twice As Much as State's Largest Legal Cash Crop, But Still Miss Vast Majority of It

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #510)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues

Another harvest season has come and gone, and the state of California has once again forgone the opportunity to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in marijuana tax revenues. Instead, the state attorney general's office proudly announced this week that the annual Campaign Against Marijuana Planting had uprooted some 3 million plants, wiping out an estimated $11.6 billion worth of weed.

[inline:camp1.jpg align=left caption="CAMP photo ("]That is more than twice the value of the state's largest legal agricultural commodity, milk and cream, which was worth $5.2 billion in 2005, according to the state Department of Food and Agriculture. It is nearly four times the value of the state's largest legal cash crop, grapes, which was worth $3.2 billion.

While the value of the plants eradicated exceeds that of the state's licit cash crops, they are only a fraction of the state's outdoor crop. Using state and federal government figures, researcher Jon Gettman estimated that the state's outdoor plant count in 2006 was more than 17 million plants in his report Marijuana Production in the United States (2006). Assuming marijuana production levels were unchanged between this year and last, that means CAMP did not eradicate some 14 million pot plants.

According to CAMP's $4,000 a plant estimate, that's some $50-60 billion in marijuana profits that went un-eradicated and untaxed. Gettman uses much smaller crop value estimates, but even using Gettman's more conservative figures, the untouched California pot crop was worth about $10 billion. And we're not even counting the estimated four million plants grown indoors in California in 2006 and presumably again this year. Ending prohibition might reduce the prices by eliminating the "risk premium" effectively added by the current illicit status, but we're still talking about a lot of money.

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BruceMirken (not verified)

See for details:{E4DB2F55-B168-4D07-BBE8-C12F4A6FB5B3}&notoc=1

(if that horribly long link doesn't work, go to and look for our 11/13/07 press release headlined, "Marijuana 'eradication' campaigns drive growers to suburbs, federal report says."

Fri, 11/16/2007 - 3:23pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Sounds like the old Vietnam body count scam. These guys wouldn't have jobs unless everything looked like it was going their way. Why not $5000 or $6000 per plant??? The word "plant" doesn't mean much. Some varieties are only 3-4 ft tall, others 10-12 ft tall. They count seedlings as plants. Gotta look good!

Fri, 11/16/2007 - 3:34pm Permalink
mlang52 (not verified)

The other thing, not mentioned, is the fact that a lot of the weeds they "collected" were likley ditch weeds! I guess I would go for a job of pulling weeds, along the road, as long as the pay scale was the same as the "agents"! Andy they get to play with helicopters and repelling ropes, too

Fri, 11/16/2007 - 3:56pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

"California has once again foregone the opportunity to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in marijuana tax revenues."

Thank God!

Just imagine all of the worthless or nefarious things the state would have done with all of that money. At least part of the economy is going to remain stable with money staying in peoples pockets rather than going to the state.

Fri, 11/16/2007 - 5:55pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I seriously hope people will look at articles like this 30 years from now and LAUGH.

Fri, 11/16/2007 - 6:39pm Permalink

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