Wine-makers turn to marijuana

The vineyards of America's Washington state do not all, it turns out, grow grapes. Increasingly, they are growing marijuana, a plant that could surpass grapes in value this year.

So far this summer, law enforcement officials in the Yakima Valley have converged on seven vineyards that had been converted to marijuana. In 2006 more than 144,000 plants were seized; the following year the total more than doubled to 296,611 plants.

Finding farmers willing to sell their property isn't difficult. In one case, drug operatives approached a farmer who didn't have his farm listed for sale. He resisted until, asked to name a price, he threw out a figure: $263,000 (£137,000) for 27 acres and no building. The buyer returned a few days later and bought the property for cash.