July 13 – A story by Joseph Abrams of FOXNews.com begins, “California’s tax board says the state could reap about $1.4 billion by taxing their biggest cash crop — marijuana — but their estimate appears to be based on hazy ‘studies’ conducted by marijuana advocates.”
CalNORML director Dale Gieringer writes: “While Fox news is right that studies on marijuana consumption are hazy, it is confused about how Cal NORML got its estimates on marijuana consumption in CA. In fact, our estimates are lower than those of the ONDCP.”
According to FOX:
The NORML report based some of its figures on a book called “The Science of Marijuana,” which in turn appears to have misquoted an annual study of regular smokers conducted at music festivals and pot rallies in Britain.
The book says the study found that daily marijuana users smoke about 2 ounces a month (56 grams), but the study actually found that they used just over an ounce a month (34.25 grams).
The weights in the British report are referring to “resin” (i.e. hashish), not marijuana. The report goes on to note that in terms of herbal cannabis, consumption is higher, averaging 57 g (=two ounces) per month. These are the numbers we used in estimating total California consumption at 1 million pounds per year.
For the record, this number is actually on the low side compared to other estimates. For example, using a similar methodology as ourselves, the ONDCP estimated total US consumption at 4,270 metric tons in 2000. Apportioning this by California’s share of the population (12%), this works out to 1.13 million pounds per year in the state. Using a different methodology, ONDCP calculated that the total amount of marijuana available in the U.S. is 4,777 – 16,731 m.t. of domestic production plus 4,581 to 7,135 m.t. of foreign imports, or 9.358 to 23,866 m.t. total per year . This would work out to 2.5- 6.3 million pounds per year in California!
It is clearly difficult to come up with accurate projections of marijuana consumption. Hard data are difficult to come by due to marijuana’s current illegal status. Nonetheless, the figures cited by NORML and the state Board of Equalization are if anything on the conservative side compared to other government estimates.