CALIFORNIA CITY, Calif. - California City is preparing for not a gold rush but a "green rush," according to local officials.
California City is leading the charge in Kern County into the future of medical marijuana. 17 News got a glimpse inside that future and what the city of less than 15 thousand has in store.
Dozens of men and women appeared in California City Thursday evening with one hope: secure licenses to get into the city's medical marijuana business on the ground level.
Groups such as Whole Greens California Inc, which says it hopes to grow and manufacture medical marijuana here specifically for veterans.
"We're veteran owned, and we specialize and focus on other veterans, PTSD, missing limbs, cancer, so we strive towards focusing on veterans first and helping them," said Raj Milian, Vice President of Whole Greens California Inc.
Milian promising 50 to 100 new jobs in the city.
Local residents listened and took notes as each business made its pitch.
All in preparation for January 2018, when the state will begin to issue licenses for legal commercial sale of marijuana.
California City City Manager Tom Weil estimates this business will bring millions in tax revenue to the city, helping with development and unemployment.
"We hope to at least with the number of applicants that we have, up and operational be able to cover that $7.5 million shortfall and even more as we go on," explained Weil.
California City Police Chief Eric Hurtado showed us some of the prime real estate: industrial and commercial land where investors hope to create warehouses to grow marijuana.
"Some areas are more...you'll probably see more of these businesses concentrated because of power and water access," said Hurtado.
30 permits have already been approved according to Weil, and 100 applications were considered Thursday.
The police chief said if all the marijuana business that want to open up here are approved, they'll have more marijuana businesses in California City than Vegas will have casinos.
Real estate broker Jane Riding was initially skeptical, but seeing property values go up changed her mind.
"We're thankful for anybody that wants to come to town and be part of this project," said Riding.
These 100 or so applications will be approved or denied toward the end of July. And as for the question of when California City will see its first medical marijuana buds begin to grow? The city manager predicts December.
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