Cannabis Grower Buys California Town to Build Pot-Friendly Outpost
American Green Inc., a maker of cannabis products, is taking an unusual step to attract new customers as it capitalizes on California legalizing marijuana: It’s buying an entire town.
The company has acquired the tiny burg of Nipton, California, for about $5 million and plans to invest as much as $2.5 million over the next 18 months to create a pot-friendly tourist destination. The purchase includes 120 acres of land with a general store, a hotel, a school building and mineral baths.
American Green, based in Tempe, Arizona, will use the existing structures and build new ones — powered by renewable energy — to revitalize the town, said project manager Stephen Shearin. Ideally, the outpost will spawn imitators, he said.
“We thought that showing that there was a viable means of having a cannabis-friendly municipality and further making it energy independent could be a way of really inspiring folks to say, ‘Why can’t we do that here?’” he said.
The move shows how far marijuana has moved out of the shadows despite an uncertain federal policy outlook. With pot now legalized for recreational and medical use in California, Nevada and six other states, one in five American adults can consume the formerly taboo plant as they please. That’s created an opportunity for companies to try to make cannabis a more mainstream product.
‘More Sophisticated Spending’
Pamela Johnston, senior vice president at Electrum Partners, a cannabis industry advising and consulting firm, said restrictions on pot use and availability have limited tourism-related activities, but predicted it will be on par with other types of travel.
“But before we blink, it will soon outpace other niche affinity travel” like wine, she said.
Nipton, with a population of about 20, is situated in California’s San Bernardino County next to the Mojave National Preserve and just across the border from Nevada. It’s about three hours by car from Los Angeles and just an hour from Las Vegas. Temperatures soar to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months.
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