Marijuana 'Canada's most valuable agricultural product'
Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles
Tuesday November 4, 2003
Investors who rely for advice on Forbes, the highly regarded American business magazine, will be tipped off this month about the industry that is now outpacing many others in North America: marijuana growing.
The magazine's cover story focuses on "the unstoppable economics of a booming business" and claims marijuana is now Canada's most valuable agricultural product, ahead of wheat, cattle and timber.
In the Canadian province of British Columbia, Forbes suggests, the industry is generating US$7bn (£4bn) annually, with signs of growing because of the changing legal climate. "Canadian dope, boosted by custom nutrients, high-intensity metal halide lights and 20 years of breeding, is five times as potent as what Americans smoked in the 1970s," it reports.
As a result, Canadian-grown marijuana is selling for as much as $2,700 a pound wholesale. By the time that pound has come down to Los Angeles, it is sold at around $6,000, says Forbes.
What makes the industry so powerful, suggests Forbes, is that the growers are "not a small coterie of drug lords who could be decimated with a few well-targeted prosecutions, but an army of ordinary folks".
Small growers look to bring in $900 a pound, with net profit margins ranging from 55% to 90%, reports the magazine, something that places marijuana alongside some of the dotcom enterprises in terms of return on investment percentages.
Marijuana is also a growth industry in terms of jobs, with people earning $15 an hour for trimming the dried flowers and consultants earning $40 an hour to help inexperienced growers get started.
The relaxation of the laws surrounding marijuana in Canada has led to increased confidence in the industry.
Canada, which has legalised cannabis for medical use, has authorised a company to grow marijuana for this purpose.
In the US, law enforcement against marijuana growers remains much stricter.