The 1995 Marijuana Rescheduling Petition

National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee - Marijuana Supply Estimates


The problems with making estimates about an illegal crop are immense. Analysts must estimate first total production in various areas of the world, and then estimate how much of that production is bound for the U.S. market. Brazil, for example, grows a lot of marijuana for domestic consumption and export to Argentina (entirely illegal, of course). Presumably most if not all of the marijuana grown in Columbia, Mexico, Jamaica, and Belize is intended for the U.S. market. Marijuana grown in Thailand and other South Asia and Pacific locations is sent to Australia, but considerable quantities reach the U.S. International marijuana production is reviewed annually by the U.S. Department of State. (15) Canada, for example, also has marijuana consumers, many of whom ultimately receive theirs from the same overseas suppliers as the U.S. Finally, a considerable amount of marijuana is grown in the United States, for consumption in the United States. It is difficult to estimate how much because of the tremendous decentralization of the domestic cultivation market.

According to NNICC, on average 39 million pounds of marijuana is available for sale in the United States annually. According to the National Household Survey, there are less than 20 million marijuana smokers in the United States. If one is to believe them both, than the average marijuana smoker consumes 2 pounds annually. That is unrealistic. Either a considerable amount of foreign produced marijuana does not make it to the United States, or there are considerably more marijuana users in the U.S. than estimated by the National Household Survey, or both.

The production figures for Mexico are volatile. Early in the 1980's the U.S. had no idea how much marijuana was actually being grown in Mexico, and in the mid 1980's U.S. pressure was on Colombia to reduce marijuana cultivation.

Table 8. Net Marijuana Available for Sale to the United States, by source country, in millions of pounds.

 

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

Mexico

7.72

8.05

10.39

66.59

43.47

17.14

17.19

13.85

Colombia

6.72

9.81

15.11

6.17

3.31

3.31

3.64

9.09

Jamaica

3.09

.48

.72

.42

1.82

1.41

.58

1.11

Belize

1.10

.44

.13

.14

.13

.11

.11

.11

U.S.

4.63

7.17

10.14

12.13

12.13

9.08

9.72

9.72

Other**

2.21

3.30

4.13

7.72

7.72

9.92

9.92*

9.92*

Gross Available

25.47

29.25

40.62

93.17

68.58

40.97

41.16

43.80

Less

               

Seizures

7.72

7.72

8.82

8.82

8.82

8.82

8.82

8.82

                 

Net Mj. Available

17.75

21.53

31.80

84.35

59.76

32.15

32.34

34.98

+ In 1989 DEA realized that Mexico had a lot more marijuana growing than was previously believed. The increase over 1988 reflects more accurate analysis rather than an increase in Mexican cultivation.

*1991 estimate

**includes S.E. Asia, and other Latin America Sources

Source: NNICC 1988, 1990, 1991, & 1993.

In 1986 the U.S. and Mexican police discovered a network of several farms which produced 8 times more marijuana than was estimated for the entire country. (16) When the U.S. began to focus on reducing Mexican marijuana cultivation in the early 1990's, the Colombian marijuana crop began to increase in production.

There are few studies on actual marijuana consumption by U.S. citizens, however an estimate of one pound per person per year should be considered generous. By this standard, the 18 million users estimated by the NHS can't account for all the available marijuana. Deciding what happened to the millions of pounds of marijuana unaccounted for in the NNICC estimate can be a fanciful game; how much was diverted to other markets, how much was consumed by uncounted U.S. consumers?

Marijuana is a multi-billion dollar international commodity whose staying power is augmented by diverse demand within the United States and diverse competition around the world to respond to economic buying power of the U.S. marijuana consumers.

If U.S. marijuana consumption was limited to 20 million pounds consumed by 20 million people, at $1000 per pound (a conservative price), the U.S. marijuana market is worth $20 billion dollars. This is a very conservative estimate. Marijuana is a very large international market.

 

 
 
 
  
 
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