This small California town is making a big bet on marijuana

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Since Adelanto was incorporated in 1991 it has been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Located in high desert, the city of 33,000 people is known largely as a prison town with three facilities in town and a fourth just outside city limits.

In 2014 things got so bad the annual Christmas parade was canceled. City officials declared a fiscal emergency and started looking seriously at the idea of ending Adelanto’s relatively short life as a city and folding itself into the neighboring city of Victorville.

But today, Adelanto is on the verge of becoming a prosperous boom town. The city is predicting a glut of new jobs and a massive influx of tax revenue, nearly doubling the current city budget. The sudden shift in the city’s fortunes is the result of a big bet that one product will save Adelanto from economic ruin–marijuana. Lots of weed is already grown in California, but almost none of it legally.

In 2014 Desert Hot Springs became the first city in California to legalize marijuana cultivation. And with recreational weed set to become legal in 2018 more cities are hoping to lure marijuana businesses to town. Adelanto has already issued more than 40 permits to growers who want to set up shop in Adelanto in an industrial part of town now called The Green Zone.