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Cannabis pharmaceutical research firm taking over Kmart building in Desert Hot Springs


The building at the corner of Palm Drive and Two Bunch Palms in Desert Hot Springs was a Kmart until last October.

This summer, a new company is moving in.

It's San Diego-based Royal Emerald Pharmaceuticals.

“It’s exciting. It always feels good to be able to come in and help communities in need," said Justin Abril, the company's Chief Compliance Officer.

He is one of a handful of executives with the company, who are mostly veterans or former law enforcement officers.

Their plan, within 5 years, is to use cannabis to make pharmaceuticals specifically to treat veterans and first responders dealing with PTSD and other ailments.

“What we have noticed or realized is that there are certain elements of the cannabis plant that can alleviate those certain conditions they experience with PTSD," said Abril.

Royal Emerald owners plan to use the building for research and manufacturing and cannabis cultivation.

Abril says the company is applying to become a federally licensed cannabis research operation.

The company, now with 12 employees, plans to move into the building beginning July 1st, and their plan is to employ one hundred people by the end of the year.

Residents we spoke with generally support the project, and the promise of jobs, while also expressing disappointment the city is without a big box store.

“Living in Desert Hot Springs we usually have to go to Palm Springs for anything we need,” said Mackenzie Josephson.

“I think with more jobs will come big box stores into our town," said Sean Selby.

Mayor Scott Matas says over 5 years, the company could hire as many as nine hundred people, with wages ranging from 15 to 25 dollars an hour.

"It's very exciting to see our residents as candidates to possibly work in this type of business," said Matas.

Because the company is applying for a federal cannabis research license, they will not be selling cannabis to the adult recreation market in California.

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Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.


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