Medical marijuana could become Nevada’s most lucrative crop due in large part to the plant’s relatively light water requirements.
Dale Devitt, a professor at UNLV, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that medical marijuana’s high retail price and relatively low water requirements will put it ahead of alfalfa farming and even golf course operations in terms of profitability per acre-foot of water.
Alfalfa earns $100 profit per acre-foot of water, while golf courses earn $5,000-$7,000 per acre-foot of water.
Devitt did not give a profit figure for marijuana cultivation but said the plant’s high value would “justify the use of water in the desert.”
“They’re going to make a lot of money using (a) very little amount of water,” Devitt said.
Terra Tech, a publicly traded firm that has applied for a cultivation license in Clark County, estimates that it can produce 75 pounds of marijuana each week at its 50,000 square-foot facility. That would yield between $15 million to $25 million in annual sales, according to Terra Tech CEO Derek Peterson.
Production costs, Peterson said, would eat up about 35% of his sales.
Peterson is planning to use a hydroponics system, which could limit his water usage. Still, he predicts he will use 330,000 gallons of water each year.