Have any analyses been done on the production cost of cannabis if it was legalized?

Aside from the very substantial costs associated in dealing with the risks of growing and distributing cannabis as a potentially dangerous and illegal activity, how much actual work and capital investment is involved in growing high quality cannabis as a crop? Is it like corn, or does it require more intensive attention and processing?

From what I’ve heard, cannabis grows just about anywhere and is very low-maintenance. One of the reasons it’s called “weed.”

The high price is not about production cost, it is due to the risk factor.

Outdoors, given sun and water, it will indeed grow like a weed … 10 to 15 feet tall and producing around a pound of decent quality buds per plant. The only real maintenance is to remove the male plants as soon as the sex can be determined otherwise much of the weight will be in seeds.

Indoor / greenhouse requirements are the same as for growing tomatoes; no great expense involved and many professional growers will plant cloned cuttings from known high quality females rather than seeds, eliminating the need to remove male plants. A bedroom in a grow house can produce between $100,000 to $300,000 per year with perhaps $1,000 worth of equipment, most of that for lights.

You can probably find more information if you look up “hemp” (cannabis). Industrial hemp has been grown for paper and textiles for centuries. It is fantastic, versatile plant whose products are much more “green” because they can replace many petroleum-based junk. Every industrialized nation in the world except the U.S. grows cannabis legally for industrial purposes and production costs are well-documented. Crop yields are amazing, the plant is low maintenance and doesn’t need pesticide or herbicides.

Industrial hemp has a very low THC content and is not suitable for pot smokers.

ETA: Wiki says “hemp” refers to plants of the entire genus Cannabis. Actually, Wiki’s article is pretty decent.

Cellphone, isn’t hemp grown outdoors? I would think medical marijuana would be grown in a greenhouse similar to a tomato greenhouse, as Turble stated.

No more than tobacco costs.
Tobacco is rather more finicky than marijuana.
As of '04, that was about $2/lb at the wholesale level, properly cured [1].


The OP asked about growing cannabis as in would you grow it like corn, in which case the answer is “yes”. Low THC cannabis is grown in fields.

For medical marijuana which has the “Whoa, duuuuuude! Don’t ogart the joint.” grade cannabis, I’m aware that there is a legal grow-op (federally licenced for medical marijuana) in Vancouver that is indoors. But from what I understand, it’s a hydroponic operation run out of some guy’s basement and it really isn’t any different than an illegal grow-op, other than the feds are allowing it.

In England, GW Pharmaceuticals has/had (I dunno if they’re still operating) a legal medicinal marijuana crop of about 20,000 plants. Given the size of the crop, I’d speculate that was done outdoors as well. ETA: Prairie Plant Systems’, in Canada, has their grow up underground (based on the photos). They are actually contracted by the Canadian to produce medical marijuana. I think they aare underground for security issues.

Yes, Prairie Plant Systems’ marijuana crop is grown underground in what used to be a copper and zinc mine. (Their website.) and it looks like it’s in part as a security precaution but also because they need to do a lot more fine tuning with their crops and are trying to develop plants with predictable and consistent levels of THC as well as provide uncontaminated research samples so they can come up with experimental drugs like GW Pharma’s THC nasal spray.