Needles is the name of a small dying city in San Bernardino County California. Located on the Colorado River’s Western Banks in the Mohave Valley sub-region of America’s Mojave Desert this little city rests near the border of Arizona and Nevada. As quiet as it is 110 miles away roughly is the legendary Las Vegas strip.
Needles was home to an estimated population of around 5,000 citizens as of 2017. The city was founded in 1883 in support of the Santa Fe Railway and was named for the nearby mountain peaks. The once thriving community is now dying.
A ride through the town will show you signs of where life used to be. Businesses are boarded up, and signs that are still visible are obviously old ones. At the time of the 2010 census an estimated 29% of the town’s population was living below the poverty line.
Crime rate climbed above the national average. Violent crimes continue to rise, as do unemployment rates. Amongst all of this there was a lack of commodities such as grocery stores and retail stores. The city also has another claim to fame that not everyone likes.
Blazing Fire Given New Meaning
In the summer the city is at times the hottest in America and even the hottest on the planet. With a plan to revitalize the town and save where he grew up, incoming mayor Jeff Williams is looking to make Needles California a lot greener.
Jeff knows the community very well because he was the county sheriff there. In his time he put many behind bars over cannabis. With the hope of bringing life back to Needles the city has approved 81 permits allowing cannabis businesses to operate since 2015. Buildings like the defunct old hotel Relax Inn has been given new life.
It’s currently being renovated and remodeled to become a cannabis cultivation facility. The cannabis sector stands to greatly increase the employment market offering more than 2,000 jobs should all the current projects fall in place. Historic Route 66 is carved straight through this tiny town in California, and cannabis may be the one thing that can have the street bustling once again.
The Opposition and Struggles
It’s not all giggles and smiles for cannabis business owners in Needles. When the first dispensaries opened their doors, they were raided by federal authorities having their products seized and never returned. The local pastor at Needles Assembly of God Thomas Lamb strongly opposes cannabis or as he refers to it marijuana. He believes it’s a problem for grade school children.
Needless to say, Needles California has a much-needed chance thanks to cannabis. The tax dollars and financial stability that cannabis offers tiny little towns like this are an opportunity Needles can’t pass up on. After all, they’re not the only little tiny town in California that’s on the verge of falling off the map. Others are competing for cannabis business investments in there dying communities as well.