Thanks to government support and a long tradition, China has quietly become a superpower in the cannabis production and research, the South China Morning Post reports. Growers, who cultivate the plant legally, sell the stems of the crop to textile factories, the leaves to pharmaceutical companies, and the seeds to food companies. For the farmers, the crop is green gold – hemp brings in more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,500) per hectare, compared to just a few thousand for more common crops like corn. It also has few natural enemies so there’s little need for expensive pesticides. The northern province of Heilongjiang is a major center for the crop. Authorities in the province turned a blind eye to its production before legalizing and regulating it last year. Another major growing area is in Yunnan province where the plant’s production has been regulated since 2003. Together, these areas account for about half of the world’s legal commercial cropland under hemp cannabis cultivation.