The Closing of the Marijuana Frontier

California is not just deciding whether pot should be legal. It’s determining the shape of a major new American industry.

By John Gravois 

Into the unknown: A marijuana grower walks in his field in Mendocino County,
where as much as two-thirds of the local economy depends on pot.
Photo: Lauren Lancaster

hen my wife and I bought a house last year in the little town of Ukiah, California, the first person to offer us advice about growing marijuana was our realtor. The house was a stolid 1909 prairie box that had been partitioned into four units, with a front porch, dark green trim, and a couple of fruit trees in the yard. It was charming, but we probably would have settled for a yurt. What mattered most to us was having a foothold in Mendocino County, a place we had long ago decided was the most beautiful in America.

Our realtor, however, drew our attention to the house’s electrical meters. There were four in total, one for each unit. If we ever wanted to grow a few indoor pot gardens, he said, we had an ideal setup. I laughed and thanked him for the tip.

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