Large Farms Are Replacing Small Ones In California’s Marijuana Industry

The size of the regulated industry is obviously growing pretty quickly

The commercial cannabis industry in California is growing rapidly, but data about its production remains sparse. That’s because cannabis is still an illicit drug under federal law and not regulated as an agricultural crop, which requires the the federal government to collect much more data.

What the available data — however limited — from state agencies show is that the amount of legal cannabis farming and taxes collected from sales of the cannabis produced have continued to increase in recent years, with large farm operations springing up across the state.

“The size of the regulated industry is obviously growing pretty quickly,” said Christopher Dillis, a UC Berkeley researcher who co-authored a 2021 study on legal cannabis production in California.

The federal government considers cannabis, or marijuana, a schedule 1 drug, which means there is “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” along with heroin and methamphetamine. The U.S. Department of Agriculture began regulating industrial hemp with less than 0.03% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the main psychoactive compound in cannabis — as a crop earlier this year.

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