A main street in Desert Hot Springs, California.

Chuck Coker

Desert Hot Springs, California Aims to Capitalize on Cannabis Tourism

A two-acre patch in Desert Hot Springs, California will soon be host to a 22,000 square-foot greenhouse capable of producing 6,000 pounds of cannabis per year, according to an Independent report. In 2014, the town became the first in Southern California to legalize large-scale cannabis cultivation.

Jason Elsasser, owner of CV Pharms, hopes the facility, which will include SoCal’s first stand-alone extraction facility, will help turn the city into a “Mecca for cannabis.” The former property manager, who also serves as president of the Cultivation Alliance Network, got into the industry in 2008 after the economy crashed, leaving him close to bankruptcy.

“I had a contract with Bank of America to pick up foreclosures, and there was a guy growing pot at one of the places I went to foreclose,” he said in the report. “I ended up giving the guy extra time because he needed time to harvest his crop, and he told me I ought to start using my properties to grow marijuana.”

Elasser also envisions the town, known for its mineral spas, could become a hot-spot for cannabis tourism and he anticipates it will become home to ‘bud and breakfasts’ and ‘soak and toke’ businesses.

Desert Hot Springs Mayor Scott Matas said there are about 50 cannabis cultivation projects in various stages of development. Companies and growers pay an annual tax of $24 per square foot of cultivation space for the first 3,000 square feet and $10 per square foot after that. At least 20 percent of the businesses workforce must be local.

Vacant roadside lots in Desert Hot Springs such as Elasser’s used to run about $60,000, now some are going for ten times that amount, he said.

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