NPR : News

Filed Under:

America's Big Backyard Pot Business

"You're driving up from redwood country, in the most beautiful park in America ... and when it's not on your radar, you have no idea it exists," says photographer H. Lee — referring to the marijuana industry that has proliferated, though unofficially, in that region of Northern California.

The name "H. Lee" is actually the pseudonym she uses when discussing her documentary project and forthcoming book, Grassland. It all seems very secretive, and I guess that's kind of the point — but she makes her opinion clear, too: "I don't think it should be so hidden," she says on the phone.

With the passage of Colorado's Amendment 64 on Tuesday — effectively legalizing recreational marijuana in that state — it seems perhaps some of America shares that opinion, too.

Either way, there's no denying the size and scale of the industry, even if it's hard to quantify.

"It's really a gold rush right now," says Lee, who has spent years photographing the marijuana industry in Northern California. "It's really different from eight years ago when I first saw it. Even five years ago, you had to be really careful."

These days, she says, if you just keep an eye out, you'll see greenhouses along roadsides and billboards advertising pot industry materials.

"It's a fascinating place," she concludes. Her anonymous photo story gives an impression of a booming business many Americans never really see. At least for now.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


From 'Unproud' To 'Hombre,' Election 2016 Is Testing Our Vocabulary

Merriam-Webster noticed the number of unique words coming out of this campaign, and has been using Twitter to report the most searchable words. Lexicographer Peter Sokolowski talks to Rachel Martin.

Migrants Work To Hold Onto Latin Food History In Gentrifying D.C. Neighborhood

A restaurant in Washington D.C. that has long been a haven for Central American immigrants is adapting to gentrification in the neighborhood.

Republican And Trump Critic Ana Navarro Speaks On Election

Ana Navarro has become a standard bearer for Republican women repudiating Donald Trump. NPR's Rachel Martin speaks with the GOP strategist about her view of the election, which is only 16 days away.

The Next Generation Of Local, Low-Power FM Stations Expands In Urban Areas

The next wave of low power FM stations is coming on the air. Initially restricted to rural areas because of interference concerns, nearly 2,000 new stations have been approved — many in urban areas.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.