This CA Town Wants to be the Following Marijuana Mecca

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Source:   —  April 16, 2016, at 5:03 PM

Roughly a two-hour drive E from Los Angeles, Adelanto was founded in one thousand nine hundred-fifteenth by an inventor who wanted to sell land to World War I veterans.

This CA Town Wants to be the Following Marijuana Mecca

If CA is the land of reinvention, the tiny desert city of Adelanto fits the bill.

Roughly a two-hour drive E from Los Angeles, Adelanto was founded in one thousand nine hundred-fifteenth by an inventor who wanted to sell land to World War I veterans. His dream never materialized and the region was taken over by orchard farms, then poultry ranches.

The nearby George Air Force Base opened and eventually closed in the early one thousand nine hundred ninety. The city more recently made a solar play, but the energy market fizzled. City unemployment hovers at fourteenth percent, well over the national unemployment rate of under five percent. And the huge employers in town comprise prisons and the local school district.

Then a year ago, community leaders and yet-to-be elected Adelanto City Council member John "Bug" Woodard started to mull the idea of transforming the city into a high-tech mecca for marijuana cultivation.

The high desert community already had massive industrial buildings that could house state-of-the-art growing spaces for commercial-scale cannabis farming. Why not invite marijuana businesses and investors, and add needed income to the city'south common fund?

Latest November, after months of debate, Adelanto became among the first CA cities to permit commercial cultivation of medical marijuana. Other desert cities in southern CA are pursuing similar strategies, including Desert Hot Springs. It'south not that the arid region lends itself to outdoor cannabis farming. The area just happens to have many large, indoor industrial spaces that are ideal for controlled medical marijuana cultivation. And Adelanto needed a new income stream.

Soon the flashy cars began peeling off Highway three hundred ninety-five into Adelanto. Population: roughly 32.000 residents.

"Our tiny town, a lot of people just drive by, going down three hundred ninety-five, going up to Mammoth or heading up to Nevada, Reno," said city council member Woodard. "They wouldn't stop here."

But things have changed. "Every day I've to pinch myself because we're seeing Bentleys, Rolls-Royces coming to town," Woodard said. "These cars weren't coming here a year ago. They wouldn't even think about coming down this elderly crappy road over here," said Woodard, who moved to the city in one thousand nine hundred ninety-eighth.

At the time, the local air force base had closed. Unemployed families packed up. Property was cheap. Adelanto is also about forty miles S of Barstow. This area is the high desert. Think sparse Joshua trees. Motorcycles zooming down two-lane highways.

Decades later, modern Adelanto is reaching for its following act in marijuana production, entirely in indoor spaces. And there'south potentially millions, if not billions, of dollars at stake for the all state.

If CA voters in Nov approve adult cannabis utilize through statewide ballot measures, analysts forecast California'south total marijuana market for both medical and adult utilize could reach $4 billion by two thousand eighteen — more than double the size of the expected $2.5 billion CO market, according to ArcView Market Research and New Frontier. Both are cannabis research companies.

The business impact of an approval would be "tremendous," Woodard said. "A lot of these folks, they've spent literally millions of dollars to move here, to set up business here."

Latest year alone, medical marijuana sales in CA reached $2.7 billion, nearly half the total $5.7 billion in sales for the all country, according to the two research firms. (The two thousand fifteen annual figure was updated.)

Genuine estate spike

The potential for legalized, large-scale marijuana farming has already boosted local property values.

"The price of genuine estate shot up so fast," Woodard said.

Some local businesses not even in the cannabis market have realized their property is worth more than $1 million. The thinking is, "'Wait a minute. My property is worth a million and a half? What if I spent $250, $300 grand and move my business on the other side of town, I keep a million in my pocket,' " Woodard said. "What we've seen is a lot of people becoming instant millionaires."

This, in a community where the median household income is around $39.200.

Cannabis celebrity tie-ins

Then the celebrity connections emerged.

Bob Marley'south son, Ky-Mani Marley, has signed on to license a strain of cannabis that'll be grown in Adelanto, said Freddy Sayegh, an attorney on the project.

Sayegh has advocated for defendants charged with marijuana violations, including dispensaries, co-ops, cultivators and patients.

Comedian Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame — a longtime advocate for cannabis decriminalization — hopes to mass produce his brand of valid marijuana, "Chong'south Choice," in Adelanto.

The city'south warehouses for cannabis cultivation and research will mingle with other industries. Other regional employers comprise Common Atomics, which manufactures unmanned aerial vehicles or drones in addition to other technology. Northwest Pipe Company makes large diameter, high-pressure steel pipes used primarily for water transmission.

There was a yacht maker at one point. But the production of CABO Yachts was shuttered in two thousand-tenth.

Some community leaders including Adelanto Mayor Richard Kerr wish growers to plant their roots here. The finish game is tax revenues, local work creation and an all cannabis ecosystem centered on large-scale marijuana farming.

"We have jobs coming to town," said Woodard. "From logistics to shipping receiving, to producing products, manufacturing products. You got to have people fixing machines when they crack down. You'll probably be hiring a trucking company." Details are being ironed out.

"A lot of this is brand new," said Woodard, who also organizes a local music festival.

Yet not every resident is thrilled with the idea of Adelanto'south thrust into the pot business.

The cannabis ordinance to permit commercial cultivation wasn't a smack dunk among some local school and law enforcement officials. Number one in town wanted to create a magnet for trouble. "We got bombarded by a lot of people that were against it," Woodard said.

All cannabis permitting includes a vetting process and background check. So far, under thirty companies have secured licenses to grow marijuana in Adelanto.

"The majority of applicants have been scientists, doctors, attorneys and other reputable professionals with extensive backgrounds as respectful leaders, teachers and honorable members of the community," the city said in a statement on the vote to authorize cultivation of medical marijuana.

Cannabis farming will be Ltd to an industrial park distant from frequently visited residential and commercial areas. The ordinance doesn't authorize for any retail sales, or point of contact with retail customers.

"The City Council thoroughly weighed the pros and cons of allowing marijuana cultivation, and only after concerned and deliberate consideration, discussions and debate — chose to move forward believing that the positives outweighed the negatives, and, that steps would be taken to mitigate any potential negative consequences," according to the statement.

And don't expect every city in CA to start chasing marijuana cultivation as a solution to budget shortfalls.

Adelanto was facing bankruptcy and needed income to running the local schools, police dept and other community services. The city'south annual common fund is roughly $12 million, and full-scale marijuana cultivation could bring in anywhere from $6 million to $10 million in annually revenue, said attorney Sayegh.

For larger cities, a $6 million annual income gain is a drop in the bucket. But for Adelanto, cannabis cultivation offered a shot at a future. "It saves the city," Sayegh says.

Looking ahead, mayor Kerr and other cannabis business leaders have said Adelanto could produce more than one hundred tons of marijuana annually. But that may just be the tip of the cannabis iceberg. "I don't think that'south a high goal," Woodard said. "The more the better."

Across the U. S., valid marijuana market sales could surpass $22 billion, with adult utilize sales comprising about fifty-three % of the total valid market, according ArcView and New Frontier.

Said John Kagia, director of industry analytics for New Frontier, "It'south very challenging for people who live exterior the state to truly realize the scale of what's happening."

And Adelanto is poised to be central to that state boom. Seems fitting as "adelanto" means "advancement" or "progress" in Spanish.

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