The Next Cure For Medical Marijuana: A California Ghost Town

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Photo Credit: Argus Leader

There are towns across the United States suffering from economic hardship, and many of these areas are searching for ways to save the day. In legal marijuana states like California, some of the jurisdictions buried in this downtrodden way of life are looking to get involved with the legal cannabis trade — not as a means to an end, but as a new beginning.

The desert town of Blythe, located on the California-Arizona border, is hoping to get into the business of growing and selling marijuana. Blythe is part of the agricultural community in the Palo Verde Valley, and has been considered a farming community for the past century.

The town, which was initially apprehensive about letting marijuana in, is now one of several California border towns trying to capitalize on the newfound legal marijuana market that launched at the beginning of the year.

“Proponents of bringing marijuana into Blythe say the city can compete against the Coachella Valley and coastal cities because of its cheaper land, plentiful water and, potentially, lower taxes,” according to the Desert Sun.

But this approach to potential economic salvation has not been an easy sell. Segments of the town are concerned that legal weed will create public health and safety problems. Some are skeptical about whether the cannabis trade is really a salvation’s wing. This attitude mostly stems from the town’s past. Previous attempts at resurrection have been less than impressive.

Yet, others, like retired Blythe city councilman Tim Wade, we believe that if legal marijuana is here, “we might as well make money on it.”

As it stands, Blythe, which has a population of around 20,000, is getting by on the funds from two state prisons. But more is needed. The unemployment rate in the area is now around 13 percent, and most of the population is living below the poverty line.

“People think there’s going to be some savior that’s going to come to Blythe, that’s going to help them out,” Wade said. “There’s no shopping here. Big corporations don’t want to come here. My personal opinion is, we’ve got to do something.”

Fortunately, the marijuana industry is interested in doing business with Blythe.  There are reportedly around 40 new businesses looking to set up shop in the community. One of those operations is a marijuana production facility that will give way to two million square acres of cannabis farming.

But nothing is set in stone — making some community members skeptical about the supposed savior called marijuana. The town has heard big talk throughout the years, but most of those opportunities fell through. But if all goes according to plan, Blythe and other California border towns could rake in huge profits from legal cannabis and breathe new life into their home.

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