WASHINGTON: In this Pacific Northwest city, known as the “Apple Capital of the World,” a new agricultural industry is taking root: marijuana.
Roughly three hours inland from Seattle, the Wenatchee metropolitan area is home to about 100,000 people. To drive there, one heads through the Cascade Range, past rolling fields dotted with sheep, horses and bison, into a climate markedly different from the rainy coastline. Wenatchee boasts 300 sunny days a year, and its desert hillsides rise up treeless and dusty from the Columbia River.
Agriculture — particularly fruit crops like apples, pears and cherries — is a major economic driver here. The industry benefits from some of the cheapest electricity costs in the nation, thanks to nearby hydroelectric dams, and irrigation from the Columbia River and its tributaries.
Two different cities actually make up this idyllic countryside: to the west of the Columbia River, Wenatchee. To the east, East Wenatchee. To an outsider, they appear as one. Driving between the two takes roughly three minutes.