The California Cannabis Market Is How Big?


A new figure has been making the rounds that has ganjapreneurs and cannabis investors on the west coast sitting up in their seat. The number is $23.3 billion, and it’s the latest economic estimate on just how much cannabis stands to be produced in California now that plant is coming out of the proverbial closet of prohibition.

Where did this number come from?

Last week, The Orange County Register deduced data sourced from California Department of Agriculture, Drug Enforcement Agency,, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, and to estimate current marijuana market production and values. The paper came up with a huge figure – one which places marijuana at the top of the state’s crop production, and would account for more market activity than the next five agricultural commodities combined. (Milk, almonds, grapes, cattle, and lettuce in California account for $22.2 billion annually.)

Veteran drug policy expert Phillip Smith explains how the newspaper arrived at its conclusion, but suggests the number may be a little high:

“The newspaper extrapolated from seizures of pot plants, which have averaged more than two million a year in the state for the past five years, and, citing the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, used the common heuristic that seizures account for only 10 percent to 20 percent of drugs produced. That led it to an estimate of 13.2 million plants grown in the state in 2015 (with 2.6 million destroyed), based on the high-end 20 percent figure.

“It then assumed that each plant would produce one pound of pot at a market price of $1,765 a pound. Outdoor plans can produce much more than a pound, but indoor plants may only produce a few ounces, so the one-pound average figure is safely conservative.

“The $1,765 per pound farm gate price is probably optimistic, though, especially for outdoor grown marijuana, which fetches a lower price than indoor, and especially for large producers moving multi-dozen or—hundred pound loads.”

While the newest number estimating California’s entry into the legal adult cannabis market could be overstated, there is no doubt that marijuana is already the state’s biggest cash crop, and it’s only going to get bigger.

Find out more on February 17th at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco, at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. Join industry pioneers, leaders, investors and entrepreneurs who are forging the path of this exciting new trade enterprise.

This blog was originally posted at and has been republished here with special permission. 

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.