Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (2.0 MB bytes)

Title: Predicting cannabis cultivation on national forests using a rational choice framework

Author: Koch, Frank H.; Prestemon, Jeff; Donovan, Geoffrey H.; Hinkley, Everett A.; Chase, John M.;

Date: 2016

Source: Ecological Economics

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)


Government agencies in the United States eradicated 10.3 million cannabis plants in 2010. Most (94%) of these plants were outdoor-grown, and 46% of those were discovered on federal lands, primarily on national forests in California, Oregon, and Washington. We developed models that reveal how drug markets, policies, and environmental conditions affect grow siting decisions. The models were built on a rational choice theoretical structure, and utilized data describing 2322 cannabis grow locations (2004-2012) and 9324 absence locations in the states' national forests. Predictor variables included cannabis market prices, law enforcement density, and socioeconomic, demographic, and environmental variables. We also used the models to construct regional maps of grow site likelihood.  Significant predictors included marijuana street price and variables associated with grow site productivity (e.g., elevation and proximity to water), production costs, and risk of discovery.  Overall, the pattern of grow site establishment on national forests is consistent with rational choice theory. In particular, growers consider cannabis prices and law enforcement when selecting sites. Ongoing adjustments in state cannabis laws could affect cultivation decisions on national forests. Any changes in cannabis policies can be reflected in our models to allow agencies to redirect interdiction resources and potentially increase discovery success.  

Keywords: Cannabis Illegal cultivation National forests Predictive model Marijuana

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Koch, Frank H.; Prestemon, Jeffrey P.; Donovan, Geoffrey H.; Hinkley, Everett A.; Chase, John M. 2016. Predicting cannabis cultivation on national forests using a rational choice framework. Ecological Economics, Vol. 129: 11 pages.: 161-171 1 p.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.