California was already known as a major cannabis producer well before it legalized recreational marijuana in November. The state’s marijuana crop is not only the most profitable product in the nation’s biggest agricultural state, it is much farther ahead of the next most popular crop, according to the Orange County Register. California’s mild climate made Central Valley the breadbasket of the world at one time and provided the United States with fruits and vegetables that grew in very few other places. However, the biggest crop in California’s assorted bounty is currently marijuana.
The Orange County Register places the value of California’s marijuana crop above the top five best agricultural goods combined using data from the State Department of Food and Agriculture: Marijuana at $23.3 billion, Milk at $6.28 billion, Almonds at $5.33 billion, Grapes at $4.95 billion, Cattle/Calves at $3.39 billion, and Lettuce at $2.25 billion. The figure of $23.3 billion for the marijuana crop is almost three times what Arcview Market Research predicted that California’s legal market would be after legalization of recreational marijuana.
According to the California Protected Area Database, the total area of protected land in California is 49 million acres, which is a large amount for the most populous state in the country. This includes 1.3 million acres of state park land and more than 20 million acres of national forest.
California marijuana producers are clearly growing billions of dollars worth of pot in these areas that are not being accounted for by the state’s legal market. However, with most of the marijuana on the U.S. market coming from California, as Alternet pointed out, the phenomenon of growing on protected land won’t stop until people in states like New York and Florida can grow their own.