The US town that wants to become the best place to grow cannabis in the world

Jason Elsasser surveys his two-acre patch of windswept sand outside the California town of Desert Hot Springs, and sees a fortune. “This whole area back here,” he says, pointing to a blank desert plot dotted with rocks and shrubs, “is going to be a 22,000-sq ft, state-of-the-art greenhouse that will produce 6,000lbs of high-quality cannabis per year, minimum.”

Mr Elsasser, a 47-year-old property developer-turned-pot magnate, plans to have his cannabis cultivation business up and running by 2018. “This little building is going to be the first stand-alone cannabis extraction facility in Southern California,” he says, referring to the only structure currently standing on the property, an empty metal barn that once housed a welding shop.

California was the first US state to legalise medical marijuana, in 1996, but its weed farmers operated in a grey market until 2015, when the state agreed new regulations allowing growers to apply for licences....

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