(FOX 11) - The green rush is coming to the small community of Desert Hot Springs. The city fell hard on financial times declaring bankruptcy once and almost twice. But, now it's profiting on pot!
Travel the 10-east… 100 miles from Los Angeles… into the Coachella Valley and just north of Palm Springs… you’ll find Desert Hot Springs. This small community of - give or take - 26,000 people was always known as a hot spot for snowbirds in the mid-1900's. A desert home to resorts and spas. But, recent years of economic hard times are being replaced by what local officials hope will be HIGH times.
Adrian Sedlin is the CEO of "Candescent", the city's first official, regulated, legal cultivator after the council decided that - maybe - medical marijuana could cure the city's financial ills.
Doria Wilms is a city management analyst and spokesperson. She says, "This is certainly a new industry here. It's in its infancy and we are very very optimistic about the future here, but at this point we're taking it day by day."
And, day by day cultivators like Adrian Sedlin are building their future.
Using lots of technology to take baby pot plants to maturity and then to market. Every ten days, he says, "we're taking down 70 pounds of finished product." He says his company is poised to make some 2400 pounds of marijuana a year. Enough to roll up over a million joints.
Sedlin says, "By the end of 2019 we'll be doing 50-million in revenue."
And, that's phenominal when you realize at the end of this first year he'll take in only $5 million dollars in business.
Sedlin says, "Cannabis is going to be a 300 billion dollar global industry. It will have its global centers just like gambling has Vegas and Macau. I think Desert Hot Springs is making a very, very, very, intelligent decision for the future of its constituents."
Desert Hot Springs... the Vegas of Pot? A Jackpot just for the growing... for a city that was cash-strapped?
City officials say homes have doubled in value. Industrial real estate ... tripled ... even quadrupled in some cases.
WIlms says, "I think there's a notion out there that 'desert hot springs is out there and they're leading the charge on this' and a notion that we're just bringing in the millions. Well, we're very optimistic that that's going to happen at some point in our future... I can say that from 2014 to date - three years - the city has seen less than a million dollars in cash revenue from this industry. I don't say that to be negative about the industry or negative about the future, but I say it because anything in its infancy is going to take time to develop."
Dale Mondary is the Chief of Police in Desert Hot Springs. He says he's always been against marijuana - the growth of it, the sale of it. He says it's a gateway drug, but since becoming chief here he's changed his tune. He's supporting it although not completely."
Mondary says, "I have huge reservations and professionally against it as a recreation drug."
In his 35 years... the Chief was even an undercover narcotics officer for a time and a DARE officer. He's never liked pot. "So, obviously," he says, " I've had to change my way of thinking and basically if its going to be here like I've said a number of times I could sit in the corner and pout about it, but its here and I'm against it or I can take a more active role." To the Chief that means making sure every safety measure is considered so crime doesn't increase.
Meanwhile, more and more licenses are being issued for cultivators to make medical marijuana in Desert Hot Springs which, someday, will be available for recreational adult use under the new law that legalizes pot for people over 21.