New Jersey’s new Attorney General Paula Dow held a press conference yesterday lauding the largest marijuana bust of living cannabis plants in the state’s history. But authorities involved are well aware that the amount seized is just a small drop in a very large bucket.
Several people were arrested after the complex indoor marijuana growing operation was raided in Monroe Township. One house was apparently not hard to find. A local police officer smelled marijuana emanating from a chimney as the growers were burning some of the plant parts. After the ill-concealed clouds of pot smoke were discovered a full investigation was launched.
NBC News reports:
Along with a vast array of indoor cultivation equipment, 3,370 growing plants, 115 pounds of harvested marijuana and $65,000 cash was seized in the raids on five different large homes, which one law-enforcement official described as "mansions." READ FULL
In this type of marijuana grow operation no one lives in the property, it is used exclusively for cultivating cannabis.
Grow houses are being found in wealthier neighborhoods for several reasons:
- Large houses offer more space and distance between houses
- Wealthy suburbs deeply follow rules of personal privacy
- Large houses that would already consume more water and electricity attract less attention and do not require stealing utilities
- The housing market slump has made larger housing less expensive with fewer buyers
Still, the recent bust makes no visible dent in the underground marijuana market of the Garden State.
Over 30, 000 New Jersey residents are arrested every year for a marijuana violation, more than 80% are for possession of less than 50 grams.
There is an assumption nationally that actual pot arrests account for about 1% of overall users. That could mean that there are 2-3 million marijuana consumers in New Jersey.
The state has about 10 million permanent residents overall.
This week the California Board of Equalization (BOE) released a report that CA residents are consuming over 1 million pounds of marijuana every 365 days. The CA BOE also concluded that 22.3 million pounds of marijuana were grown in California in 2006 alone. Read the CA BOE report
While New Jersey’s marijuana market is likely not on the same scale of California, a safe hypothesis could assume that there are indeed several million pounds of marijuana grown in the Garden State each year to keep up with local demand.
Let’s do a little math experiment: To supply 2 million cannabis consumers with just ¼ ounce per month of mid-grade underground marijuana at a cost of $50 per quarter-ounce would make for a $1.2 billion dollar pot market just in New Jersey; every year.
This theory would also mean that NJ residents consume at least 375,000 pounds of cannabis annually.
These are just conservative estimates by a blogger with a calculator.
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