Legalize It: California City Becomes Next Marijuana Green Rush Town, How Can You Cash In?

Cannabis legalization is sweeping the nation and so is the green rush that’s turning the back alley shadow trade into a billion dollar business, and one California town has pinned its hopes on the emerging pot industry.

Hoping to profit from weakening marijuana restrictions, Desert Hot Springs became the first California town to legalize large-scale cannabis farms after it was forced to declare a fiscal emergency in 2014.

The city, about two hours from Los Angeles, voted to legalize marijuana farms and dispensaries along huge swaths of barren desert, and now cultivators from around the world are swooping in, Mayor Scott Matas told the LA Times.

“I can only imagine what we can do with the tax revenue. We’re in need of parks, our roads are dilapidated. All around — our sidewalks, curbs, gutters.”

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The city has already approved 11 businesses, which plan to utilize 1.7 million square feet of desert to grow marijuana plants, and eight other projects are waiting to be OK’d despite the town’s missing infrastructure. Some plots of land don’t even have utilities or roads, but developers keep pouring in from around the world, Coachella Valley real estate broker Marc Robinson told the LA Times.

“It’s pretty chaotic. I’m getting tons of calls from all over the world, all over the United States. My newest clients flew over from Germany.”

As the legalization of recreational pot sweeps the nation, the marijuana farming industry is quickly turning into one of the most lucrative business opportunities in some time. California’s medical cannabis industry was valued at $2.7 billion last year and is projected to reach $6.4 billion by 2020.

Last year, the golden state passed a series of bills normalizing the medical marijuana industry and introducing the state’s first pot czar in charge of regulating the growth, transportation, and sales of cannabis.

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The move sent the state’s marijuana growers into a frenzy as pot entrepreneurs across the state began to snatch up plots of farmland like hotcakes and cities like Desert Hot Springs and nearby Cathedral City began to welcome marijuana cultivators.

Now, with California poised to consider legalizing recreational marijuana in November, the push to expand the golden state’s many pot farms is increasing.

Cash In On The Green Rush

To profit from the cannabis craze sweeping California, potential marijuana farmers will need approval from the state’s pot czar, which they can obtain by 2018; in order to receive a license, they will first need to show a local permit.

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They also need access to large quantities of electricity, which is required to run the massive lighting and air conditioning systems needed in an indoor growing operation. Those utility requirements make growing weed on arid desert land much more difficult, as Southern California Edison spokesman Robert Laffoon-Villegas told the LA Times.

“It would be like adding a small city to the system. In order to do that safely it does require significant study … and it may require significant infrastructure.”

Marijuana growers also need to secure and protect their valuable crops somehow with guards, fences or dogs, which cities like Desert Hot Springs have mandated as part of the regulation process. Access to the banking system is also becoming increasingly important, as marijuana entrepreneurs in Colorado and Washington have discovered.

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Despite the difficulties, marijuana cultivation is likely to be the next gold rush, with profit from the nation’s pot farms easily exceeding America’s two biggest cash crops, according to Mic News.

With the planned expansion of California’s pot czar making regulation easier to abide by and the potential legalization of recreational marijuana in November, the green rush is here to stay.

That means cities like Desert Hot Springs, in the Coachella Valley, will continue to welcome marijuana growers with open arms.

[AP Photo/Eric Risberg]