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What 2022’s Cannabis Harvest Means for the Industry’s Future

Posted 2 months ago by GVB Biopharma Evidence Based

Every indication suggests that the US hemp and cannabis industry is set for sustainable future growth. Now, this general belief has been substantiated in great detail in the form of a report published by Leafly regarding the volume of cannabis that was harvested in 2022.

Why is Leafly so confident that the future of the United States hemp and cannabis industry is bright? Find out everything you need to know about this compendious report in the form of a simplified and summarized guide.

Leafly reports on the state of the cannabis industry

A whole team of writers got together to make this report¹ on the current status of the cannabis industry in the United States, and it spans more than 30 pages. Along the way, the Leafly authors remark both on overall factors affecting the industry as well as the particular dynamics affecting specific states. By the end, readers are aware of how all the data in the report were accumulated — right down to the exact methods the authors used.

Report Overview

To begin, we’ll summarize some of the most important points found in the report:

– Cannabis is now America’s 6th most valuable crop

– Four new states were added to the adult-use cannabis industry in 2022

– Over 13,000 farms are now in some way supported by cannabis

– The adult-use cannabis industry is now worth over $5 billion

– The amount of cannabis grown per year now exceeds 2,800 metric tons

Already, we find a lot to unpack. It’s true that, just based on the adult-use industry alone, growing Cannabis sativa now stands as the sixth-most profitable venture you can enter into as an American farmer.

Many crops yield more overall, but cannabis is what is known as a “cash crop,” meaning that small amounts sell for high prices. It’s no wonder, then, that so many American farms have adopted cannabis or hemp.

With the value of the American cannabis industry going up every year, it’s unlikely that agricultural interest in cultivating cannabis will go away anytime soon. Instead, expect cannabis to continue rising through the ranks of America’s top crops.

Cannabis is now America’s 6th largest crop

What does it mean, exactly, that cannabis is now in the top 10 most valuable crops in the United States? For one thing, it means hemp and cannabis are now more valuable than both rice and potatoes. It means that some estimated 2,834 metric tons of adult-use cannabis were harvested in 2022. It means there are now 15 adult-use cannabis states with 13,297 farms between them.

Which crops are still more valuable than cannabis, according to Leafly?

1. Corn: $82.6 billion

2. Soy: $57.5 billion

3. Hay: $19.3 billion

4. Wheat: $11.9 billion

5. Cotton: $7.5 billion

Corn is often used to make highly processed items, and if consumer sentiment is any indication, soy should be going out of fashion sometime soon. Somewhat ironically, the American agricultural landscape is reverting to what it once was — before prohibition days, hemp was one of America’s staple crops, and it’s set to regain its ancestral place once again.

Hemp cultivation swells nationwide

The 2018 Farm Bill sent it back to the states to decide how they would regulate hemp cultivation. Federal law still prohibits the cultivation of high-THC cannabis, but 15 states have defied the feds by making cannabis cultivation and sale legal anyway.

At this point, it’s looking like it will soon be the norm for cannabis to be cultivated across the United States. The federal government is even preparing to pass a new Farm Bill in 2023, which is expected to give the nod to the cannabis industry even further with additional regulatory easings.

Early in its report, Leafly makes sure to note how important it is to keep track of hemp and cannabis. Hemp is one thing, but some forms of cannabis are still illegal drugs — making conventional methods used to track agricultural growth ineffective.

Adult-use cannabis grown in 15 states

While 19 states (and the District of Columbia) have legalized adult-use cannabis, there are still only 15 states where you can actually buy any cannabis products you like. Elsewhere, the 2018 Farm Bill applies — you may enjoy cannabis at will, but only as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC.

Total cannabis freedom may still be a considerable distance away for the average American, but 15 states is nothing to scoff at. Already, a third of the country has voted away from the federal government and with their instincts to make cannabis at least somewhat legal for average adults to buy.

Federal challenges slowing growth

At the same time that Americans prove again and again that they’re fascinated by CBD, THC, CBG, and all the other cannabinoids present in Cannabis sativa, an inhibitive federal regulatory climate continues to make life difficult for the people who have taken it upon itself to grow hemp for the masses. In its report, Leafly identifies the four most pressing challenges facing the domestic cannabis industry at the federal level:

Legality: Cannabis containing more than 0.3% THC remains federally illegal. This limit is likely to increase to 1% with the passage of the 2023 Farm Bill, a step in the right direction that would protect farmers from being persecuted for growing or processing “in-progress” plants.

Banking: Entities engaged in illegal activity — such as THC production — cannot access traditional forms of banking. Thankfully, most hemp businesses do not face this issue, but online payment processors often still shun both CBD and THC brands.

Taxation: At the federal level, Leafly points out that cannabis businesses are saddled with tax codes that can raise taxation rates as high as 70%.

Relief: Entities engaged in cannabis cultivation are exempt from federal disaster relief. The same is sometimes also true for hemp companies.

Hurdles faced at the state level

Hemp farmers also face considerable challenges at the state level, further complicating their efforts to successfully cultivate and distribute their products. Even in states that have gone out of their way to allow the production and sale of hemp or cannabis products, conditions aren’t always favorable toward those involved in cultivating cannabinoids. Here’s how:

Insurance: If they can even access insurance, hemp and cannabis producers must often pay exorbitant premiums.

Selling: In many markets, hemp — and especially cannabis — cultivators have a hard time finding anyone to buy their products. Sometimes, it’s because the state hasn’t opened eligible stores yet.

Applications: Just to apply for licenses, hemp and cannabis cultivators must often pay high fees. Then, farmers are often penalized again to keep operating every year — sometimes more than $70,000, according to Leafly.

Regulations: Both hemp and cannabis cultivators must often navigate absurdly complex state regulations. Apparently, Colorado’s cannabis handbook spans more than 500 pages of densely worded legalese.

Cannabis cultivation state-by-state

To help readers understand just how much the American cannabis landscape has changed over the last few years, Leafly goes through each of the 15 states in which cannabis is currently sold and provides vital statistics. Of course, the story of Cannabis sativa is much bigger than that — not reflected is a 50-state network of legal hemp farms, often exempt from the difficulties THC producers face.

Over time, the differences between these two industries will erode, supported only the genuine differences that exist between cannabinoids and their effects. For now, here are the quick facts you need to know about each of the 15 states included in Leafly’s report:


Top crops:

1. Cannabis

2. Hay

3. Barley

Cannabis industry value: $138m

Number of farms: 249

Taxation: Very high


Top crops:

1. Hay

2. Lettuce

3. Cannabis

4. Spinach

Cannabis industry value: $250m

Number of farms: 132

Taxation: Moderate


Top crops:

1. Hay

2. Tomatoes

3. Walnuts

4. Cannabis

Cannabis industry value: $1b

Number of farms: 6,881

Taxation: High


Top crops:

1. Hay

2. Corn

3. Cannabis

Cannabis industry value: $687m

Number of farms: 818

Taxation: High


Top crops:

1. Corn

2. Soy

3. Cannabis

Cannabis industry value: $445m

Number of farms: 109

Taxation: Very high


Top crops:

1. Potatoes

2. Blueberries

3. Cannabis

Cannabis industry value: $45m

Number of farms: 72

Taxation: Moderate


Top crops:

1. Cannabis

2. Cranberries

3. Hay

Cannabis industry value: $362 million

Number of farms: 340

Taxation: Moderate


Top crops:

1. Soybeans

2. Hay

3. Cannabis

Cannabis industry value: $551m

Number of farms: 925

Taxation: High


Top crops:

1. Lentils

2. Peas

3. Cannabis

Cannabis industry value: $50m

Number of farms: 278

Taxation: High


Top crops:

1. Cannabis

2. Hay

Cannabis industry value: $420m

Number of farms: 305

Taxation: Moderate

New Jersey

Top crops:

1. Cannabis

2. Blueberries

3. Corn

Cannabis industry value: $124m

Number of farms: 13

Taxation: High

New Mexico

Top crops:

1. Pecans

2. Hay

3. Cannabis

Cannabis industry value: $90m

Number of farms: 496

Taxation: Moderate


Top crops:

1. Hay

2. Cannabis

3. Wheat

Cannabis industry value: $500m

Number of farms: 1,406

Taxation: Moderate


Top crops:

1. Hay

2. Maple syrup

3. Cannabis

Cannabis industry value: $20m

Number of farms: 203

Taxation: High


Top crops: 

1. Hops

2. Cherries

3. Cannabis

Cannabis industry value: $350m

Number of farms: 1,070

Taxation: High

Leafly report: Final points

Leafly concludes by taking a closer look at the California cannabis industry, which has served as a bellwether since the 1990s. The cannabis market in the Golden State is doing great, actually, but not in the way that regulators would like — plenty of shoppers prefer CBD, which they can buy online, and others simply never migrated away from the illicit market. From there, Leafly simply explains the methodology it used when defining licenses, cannabis, and other important terms used in the report.

What it means for the wider hemp & cannabis industry

The hemp and cannabis industries are intimately intertwined. As much as hemp would like to distance itself from cannabis, the two substances have a common origin, and the path forward for Cannabis sativa includes both sides.

So, what’s good for cannabis is also good for hemp — but not always directly. We’ve seen, for instance, how regulators have come down hard on state-based cannabis industries but haven’t had any luck reigning in nationwide hemp sellers. Hemp has often flourished while cannabis has been weighed down by burdensome taxes and regulation.

Hopefully, the upcoming federal Farm Bill will bring much-needed clarity and stability to the current situation.. Until then, we’ll take Leafly’s report on the 2022 cannabis harvest into account and continue spreading the benefits of cannabinoids far and wide.


  1. 1. Leafly Cannabis Cultivation Report 2022. Leafly.

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