BY: M. TOMOSKI
There is nothing particularly special about the city of Desert Hot Springs California—yet. It’s quite easy to miss the town itself for the beautiful scenery surrounding it. On the north side of Interstate 10, this quaint little town overlooks its better-known neighbor Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, where thousands are drawn to its music festival every year. But, with the power of pot, this dusty little town is looking to breathe some life into its economy and become the centre of California’s marijuana industry.
After it declared bankruptcy in 2014, the city council voted to legalize dispensaries and cultivation across 380,000 square feet of desert along its sparsely populated roads: Two Bunch Palms Trail and Little Morongo Road. City officials are hoping that this will bring in new investors and revitalize their town by making use of the vast swaths of dust and desert that surround it.
Desert Hot Springs is looking to follow Colorado and Washington on a path to financial recovery and has made the decision just in time, after 600,000 signatures were collected for a ballot measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use in California.
According to the City’s guidelines farmers will pay, “an annual tax of $25 per square foot for the first 3,000 square feet, and then $10 per square foot for the remaining space.”
One company alone, GfarmaLabs, is expected to bring in $1 million in tax revenue with its plan to build a massive cultivation complex which aims to be the largest pot farm in the country.
The company told the local ABC7, “It’s going to be filled with greenhouses. It’s going to be an agricultural center out in the middle of the desert.”
And Gfarma isn’t the only company looking to create a mega-farm in the middle of nowhere. Pineapple Express Inc. of Los Angeles is currently building a magical place called Pineapple Park and will rent to roughly 20 farmers expecting to produce ten thousand pounds of marijuana a month.
According to the city’s guidelines all crops will have to be grown entirely indoors, a precaution, which, according to the city, will prevent the smell from disturbing its neighbors and will provide additional security for the farmers. However, an entirely indoor complex will also require an insane amount of energy that the city can’t currently provide. But the issue hasn’t kept investors from scooping up large parts of the desert for their own while they still can.
“It’s pretty chaotic,” real estate broker Marc Robinson told the LA Times. “I’m getting tons of calls from all over the world, all over the United States. My newest clients flew over from Germany.”
Not much good has come out of the California drought, but for Desert Hot Springs it looks as though the dusty land it left behind has now become its best hope to become a household name. As the industry continues to grow and the stigma falls away state by state, it looks as if the Coachella Valley will have a whole lot more to offer on the other side of the interstate.