If California is the land of reinvention, the small desert city of Adelanto fits the bill.
Roughly a two-hour drive east from Los Angeles, Adelanto was founded in 1915 by an inventor who wanted to sell land to World War I veterans. His dream never materialized and the region was taken over by orchard farms, then poultry ranches. The nearby George Air Force Base opened and eventually closed in the early 1990s. The city more recently made a solar play, but the energy market fizzled. City unemployment hovers at 14 percent, well above the national unemployment rate of under 5 percent. And the big employers in town include prisons and the local school district.
Then a year ago, community leaders and yet-to-be elected Adelanto City Council member John "Bug" Woodard started to mull the idea of transforming the city into a high-tech mecca for marijuana cultivation. The high desert community already had massive industrial buildings that could house state-of-the-art growing spaces for commercial-scale cannabis farming. Why not attract marijuana businesses and investors, and add needed revenue to the city's general fund?