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Marijuana 'canada's Most Valuable Agricultural Product'

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Investors who rely for advice on Forbes, the highly regarded American
business magazine, will be tipped off this month about the industry that is
now outpacing many others in North America: marijuana growing.

The magazine's cover story focuses on "the unstoppable economics of a
booming business" and claims marijuana is now Canada's most valuable
agricultural product, ahead of wheat, cattle and timber.

In the Canadian province of British Columbia, Forbes suggests, the industry
is generating US$7bn (UKP 4bn) annually, with signs of growing because of
the changing legal climate. "Canadian dope, boosted by custom nutrients,
high-intensity metal halide lights and 20 years of breeding, is five times
as potent as what Americans smoked in the 1970s," it reports.

As a result, Canadian-grown marijuana is selling for as much as $2,700 a
pound wholesale. By the time that pound has come down to Los Angeles, it is
sold at around $6,000, says Forbes.

What makes the industry so powerful, suggests Forbes, is that the growers
are "not a small coterie of drug lords who could be decimated with a few
well-targeted prosecutions, but an army of ordinary folks".

Small growers look to bring in $900 a pound, with net profit margins
ranging from 55% to 90%, reports the magazine, something that places
marijuana alongside some of the dotcom enterprises in terms of return on
investment percentages.

Marijuana is also a growth industry in terms of jobs, with people earning
$15 an hour for trimming the dried flowers and consultants earning $40 an
hour to help inexperienced growers get started.

The relaxation of the laws surrounding marijuana in Canada has led to
increased confidence in the industry.

Canada, which has legalised cannabis for medical use, has authorised a
company to grow marijuana for this purpose.

In the US, law enforcement against marijuana growers remains much stricter.

Pubdate: Tue, 04 Nov 2003
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2003 Guardian Newspapers Limited
Contact: letters@guardian.co.uk
Website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardian/