One of the principal concerns raised regarding climate change is its potential effects on agriculture. There is continuing discussion that the potential combination of increased temperatures with drought or increased rainfall might result in reduced crop yields or crop failure in some or all of the traditional crop production regions. There is also continuing discussion of the perceived need to reduce meat consumption, so that grazing land could be converted to food production.
There is little discussion of the likelihood that production of these food crops would move to areas which have been too cold or had too short growing seasons in the past. There is also little recognition of the contribution of plant genetics to increased plant tolerance and yield.
However, in the face of all of this concern about food production, at least in the United States, the number one cash crop in ten US states is marijuana, as shown in the attached table. Marijuana is among the top five cash crops in a total of 39 of the 50 states; and, among the top ten cash crops in all but 2 states.
This is not to suggest that marijuana is a major crop in any of these states by volume or weight, or that it is crowding out production of other crops for human or animal consumption, including export. Rather, it is to suggest that a very high value has been placed on a crop which has no food value (even when baked into brownies), in the face of vocal concern about the adequacy of future food production.
Current efforts to legalize the consumption of marijuana for other than medicinal purposes will likely increase the demand for the product, increasing the productive acreage dedicated to its production, though it might also result in corresponding reductions in its commercial value. One has to question whether this agricultural product should have such a high priority.
Marijuana Rank as Cash Crop, by State
|Indiana||3||New Mexico||2||West Virginia||1|
Source: NORML (USDA data)