Which U.S. States Grow the Most Cannabis?

Northern California might be a marijuana Mecca, but Colorado and Washington passed recreational cannabis regulations first. Oregon has a weird and wonderful weed culture, but the Midwest has some of the best growing conditions in the country. So where, oh where, is the best place to raise reefer in these United States?

California, by a Long Shot

California claims several advantages in the cannabis cultivation competition. For one, California’s size alone gives the state an edge. By land area, California is the third largest state in the U.S., and though the Golden State boasts some of the most populated cities in the country, the vast majority of the state’s land is devoted to agriculture.

California has a near ideal climate for growing — not just for growing cannabis, but for growing almost anything. The so-called Emerald Triangle of Mendocino County, Humboldt County and Trinity County has plenty of rainfall without lingering high humidity, cooler temperatures year-round without ever becoming truly cold and extremely fertile soils. The Emerald Triangle alone generates over 1.7 million pounds of pot every year — and it provides only a fraction of California’s cultivation.

Finally, California is the global epicenter for cannabis culture. Since the 1960s, cannabis consumption in California has been high, and the number of stoners in the state continues to increase. The age and dominance of cannabis culture has influenced local supply positively, ensuring that there is enough cultivation to keep Californians in green.

Colorado and Washington Come Next

No other states have the same abundant advantages as California, but Colorado and Washington come close. Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis back in 2012, and the extra few years of legal weed regulations have given these states an edge in developing higher demand and supply.

Colorado is most similar to California in terms of climate and culture. Interestingly, Coloradans are remarkably forward-thinking when it comes to controlled substances; not only were they the first to pass legal cannabis regulations, but Denver was the first city to allow the sale and use of psilocybin mushrooms. Most neighborhoods have their own Colorado dispensary, catering to the interests and needs of the local community. Plus, because Colorado boasts some of the highest number of sunny days, it is possible to grow cannabis outside, using the natural soil and precipitation to make cannabis cultivation more sustainable.

Washington, meanwhile, has a horrible climate for cannabis cultivation. Too much moisture tends to cause the roots and stalks of cannabis plants to rot, and insufficient sunshine results in lower cannabinoid content and lower flower yields. Still, the demand for cannabis has risen to extreme heights in Washington, so cultivators have moved growing indoors to ensure that they have enough supply for the entire state.

Federal Law Could Change Everything

Because cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, the transport of cannabis across state lines is strictly prohibited. As a result, every state with legal weed must cultivate enough cannabis within its own borders to meet its demand.

However, should federal cannabis regulations change, where cannabis is grown could change, too. Though states like Kentucky and Tennessee currently ban recreational cannabis consumption, they have excellent agricultural infrastructure and a climate well-suited to cannabis cultivation. It is possible that federal legalization could encourage more traditional farmers to take up cannabis growing — as many already have with non-psychoactive hemp.

Such a shift could be beneficial for everyone, from California stoners to Kentucky growers. Weed legalization has already been shown to boost economies, helping keep some states afloat during the economic downturn amidst the COVID pandemic. Allowing cultivation in Midwestern and Southern states could be essential in creating jobs in these areas. Meanwhile, more sustainable cultivation in regions suited to the pursuit could lead to better quality weed.

California has reigned supreme in cannabis cultivation for decades, and it doesn’t look like any state is going to threaten that supremacy any time soon. You can see some of the latest Cultivation Trends in Cannabis to see how they do it. However, should the federal government decide to update its regulations on cannabis and permit recreational use nationwide, other states could begin competing with massive grow operations of their own. Regardless, it is an exciting time to be a cannabis grower almost anywhere.

OCC Staff

Oregon Cannabis Connections capable staff or contributors. Contributors names will be noted. OCCNewspaper.com, covering the Oregon Cannabis Community and beyond, since 2010!

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