From award-winning journalist Peter Hecht, a defining work on America's marijuana phenomenon - and the arc of history that made it happen

"With journalistic bravura, Hecht's...cautionary and deftly reported account is an animated examination of how too much, too soon almost doomed a movement." - Publishers Weekly





Inside America's Marijuana Epicenter

and How Pot Went Legit

   A new release from University of California Press

Early in the morning of September 5, 2002, camouflaged and heavily armed Drug Enforcement Administration agents descended on a terraced marijuana garden - a medicinal and spiritual refuge for the sick and dying. The DEA raid on the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a sanctuary for severely ill patients who were using marijuana as medicine, stirs the opening of Weed Land, an up-close journalistic narrative that chronicles a transformative epoch for marijuana in America.

Moving from the passage of California's Proposition 215, the nation's first medical marijuana law, through law enforcement raids and the emergence of a lucrative cannabis industry, Weed Land reveals the changing political, legal, economic and social dynamics

of pot. It offers an independent, meticulously reported account of the clashes and contradictions of a burgeoning California cannabis culture that stoked pot liberalization elsewhere, leading to marijuana legalization votes in Colorado and Washington.

Written by Peter Hecht, a senior writer for The Sacramento Bee who covered marijuana issues for four years, Weed Land takes readers into the laboratories of researchers who challenged federal drug policy with clinical studies revealing the medical benefits of cannabis. It also explores an exploding marijuana marketplace that pitches compassionate healing with the pure joy of pot. And it takes readers inside the law enforcement backlash - and unfolding consequences - of a federal crackdown on America's largest marijuana economy.

Photo by Paul Kitagaki Jr.

Meet the Author                

Peter Hecht began reporting on America’s marijuana phenomenon in 2009, starting with a quixotic medical marijuana taxation vote in Oakland and continuing with coverage of pot legalization efforts and cannabis commerce that swept California and beyond. His marijuana coverage was honored for explanatory reporting in the "Best of the West" journalism awards and earned an Excellence in Journalism prize from the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Hecht, a past Best of the West winner for feature writing and immigration and minority affairs reporting, has served as The Sacramento Bee's political writer and Los Angeles bureau chief. He has reported from nine countries in Latin America, and served as a visiting professor of journalism at Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas in Lima, Peru, on behalf of the International Center for Journalists. He holds a master’s degree in Latin American and International Studies from California State University, Sacramento. He was a graduate fellow in international journalism at the University of Southern California and earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from California State University, Fullerton. He lives in Diamond Springs, California.

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'One Book' honoree,   Sacramento State University, 2015-16

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Praise for Weed Land
"In this powerful account, Hecht reveals the origins of the modern medical cannabis movement and explores how it evolved from a small cadre of seriously ill patients, concerned doctors, and compassionate caregivers to a multi-billion dollar a year 'recreational industry.'" 
Jed Riffe, producer and director, Waiting to Inhale: Marijuana, Medicine, and the Law


“Peter Hecht’s Weed Land documents the Wild West culture of California’s marijuana industry on a journey from Hollywood to Humboldt, and the hippies, healers and hucksters who are changing American culture and politics. It’s essential reading for anyone who is a fan of California’s most lucrative agricultural product.”

Dale Maharidge, author of And Their Children After Them, winner of the non-fiction Pulitzer Prize


“Peter Hecht artfully weaves together the history of the modern medical marijuana movement. Weed Land is an extremely engaging and satisfying read."

Isaac Peter Campos, associate professor, University of Cincinnati, author of  Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico's War on Drugs


"The movement to legalize pot is in full swing and if you want to understand how we got here, Peter Hecht's impressive Weed Land is THE book to read.  He's covered the story as thoroughly as any journalist in the country and it shows."                                         Gary Delsohn, author of The Prosecutors: A Year in the Life of a District Attorney's Office


"Weed Land contains in-depth personal histories of those at the heart of the marijuana reform industry and law-reform movement in California. Peter Hecht tells the protagonists' compelling stories with care in his well-written and well-researched work."                     Sam Kamin, professor, University of Denver Sturm College of Law