The World's Biggest Cash Crop
Agriculture is one of the biggest industries in the world as measured by annual revenue — with the top five revenue crops bringing in more than $850 billion annually.
All in all, more than 2 million square miles of the Earth's surface is committed to producing these five crops — more than half the total square miles of the entire U.S., Alaska and Hawaii included.
It's an enormous undertaking, involving an enormous number and variety of workers to execute.
However, looking at some of the vital metrics behind these top five crops, you will quickly notice a glaring disparity.
The fifth one, however, takes up just a minuscule sliver of the total land to produce its staggering volume of revenue.
And yet it accounts for more revenue annually than any of the other top five... by a large margin.
Look at the chart above, and you'll see which crop I'm talking about.
$130 Million for Every Square Mile
Across the world, the cannabis industry is almost completely illegal. And yet it's bigger than rice. It's bigger than corn. It's bigger than soybeans, potatoes, and sugar put together.
Even when compared to its fellow controlled substances, cannabis blows them out of the water.
It's six times bigger than coca, the key ingredient in cocaine, and about 20 times bigger than opium poppy, the precursor to heroin.
Even on an acre-for-acre basis, cannabis tops out coca by a 27% margin, producing, on average, $192,000 per harvested acre to the coca leaf's $152,000.
Just for the sake of comparison, an acre of rice is worth about $600.
The numbers are incredible, more so when taken in context with the fact that it's still completely prohibited by the vast majority of governments.
This, however, is rapidly changing... and not just because the people of the world are warming up to the idea that marijuana is far less harmful than some already legal substances.
The main driving force behind the recent loosening of marijuana laws in the U.S. and Canada is practicality. It's simply too big, too prevalent, and too expensive to even attempt to control.
The U.S. alone has spent hundreds of billions on the prosecution and incarceration of non-violent marijuana offenses... but the real monetary losses don't come from wasted expenditures on impractical policies...
Decriminalization: Law Following Practicality
They come from the lack of legal revenue and taxation... and in the end, that's why the laws are changing today.
Cannabis, aside from being a recreational drug, is also one of the most useful natural materials known to man.
Its pharmacological properties have been known for years and are now being studied more closely than ever by some of the biggest names in pharmaceuticals.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, cannabis has applications in the manufacture of paper, clothing, building materials, even livestock feed, fuel, and a range of bioplastics.
In all, more than 50,000 uses have been identified for this unique plant.
And that's on top of its current main application — recreation — for which marijuana, according to the United Nations, has an existing user base of 158 million worldwide.
The only thing standing in the way of this natural substance becoming one of the world's most popular plants by volume, not just revenue, was legislation.
And now that this tide is turning, we're about to see a significant shift in the way this industry is viewed and operates.
Right now, a handful of young North American companies represent the vanguard of this market in the making.
They grow the plant not only for an expanding list of legal human consumption purposes but also for researching new applications.
Not too long from now — probably not more than a few years — these companies will be sitting at the foundation of a diversified, legal, multibillion-dollar industry.
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New Laws, New Industries, New Markets... New Profit
This isn't a prediction — it's a fact. The trend here cannot be reversed. The industry is already roughly half the size of America's annual defense budget, and growing.
The only change that will come now will serve to transition this once-black market into a legal, taxable one.
And that change, as I've said before, is already well under way.
Since this legislative trend began opening the door for cannabis to enter the mainstream, one of my fellow editors, Jeff Siegel, has been following it closely.
In the last few years, he's become one of the world's best authorities on the subject of the North American cannabis industry — focusing specifically on the small, tech-focused start-ups that have sprung up around the opportunity.
He's recently published a report on how to invest in this emerging market, targeting some of the most innovative companies operating today in any industry.
His report is available now for the first time, and it is yours absolutely free of charge.
But I warn you... changes this big don't happen often, and they're not happening slowly.
The cannabis industry has already proven to be one of the fastest-moving sectors since the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s.
So time might not be on your side.
Fortune favors the bold,
Coming to us from an already impressive career as an independent trader and private investor, Alex's specialty is in the often misunderstood but highly profitable development-stage microcap sector. Focusing on young, aggressive, innovative biotech and technology firms from the U.S. and Canada, Alex has built a track record most Wall Street hedge funders would envy. Alex contributes his thoughts and insights regularly to Wealth Daily. To learn more about Alex, click here.
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