There has long been a great divide between cosmopolitan cities and small town America.
With traditional industries such as coal and manufacturing on the decline, many young people have been compelled to leave their small town setting for a career in the big cities. The divide seems poised to grow even larger as tech jobs lead the new economy.
Commercial marijuana could help to bring opportunity and an economic boost to these struggling areas. The LA Times reported on drastic changes going on in Desert Hot Springs. The city has attempted to brand itself as a destination for tourists for years, but simply could not compete with nearby resort towns. However, the city became the first in Southern California to legalize large-scale medical marijuana cultivation. The area is now witnessing a potential boom to its local economy. Desert land, which would otherwise be in little demand, is now being bought up quickly.
“I’m getting tons of calls from all over the world, all over the United States. My newest clients flew over from Germany.” Coachella valley real estate broker Marc Robinson said. Mayor Scott Matas has also been encouraged by the newfound interest in Desert Hot Springs. “I can only imagine what we can do with the tax revenue,” the mayor said. “We’re in need of parks, our roads are dilapidated. All around-our sidewalks, curbs, gutters.”
In 2014, the city council voted to legalize medical marijuana cultivation and dispensaries after a state of fiscal emergency was declared. The new regulations will fetch $25 in taxes per square foot used in marijuana cultivation for the first 3,000 square feet, and $10 per square foot thereafter.
The new direction for Desert Hot Springs is having a tangible effect for locals. A real estate agent offering $500,000 for 5 acres of desert land approached Carlos Bravo. This amounted to five times the price he had purchased the land for only six months prior. Initially, Bravo thought it was a joke. When the agent returned the next day, the sincerity became clear.
The new economy is proving to be a difficult transition for many of us, especially in less populated settings. Small cities like Desert Hot Springs may find sustainable success in the modern marijuana industry. They are not simply selling off excess land and pocketing profits. These large grows and dispensaries will have to be staffed and maintained, creating new jobs and helping to attract young workers.