In a bid to create the country’s first marijuana-tourism destination, the town of Nipton, California, was bought for about $5 million last week by Arizona cannabis company American Green Inc.
The company announced on Thursday it is buying all 80 acres of Nipton, which includes its Old West-style hotel, a handful of houses, an RV park and a coffee shop. Its plans are to transform the old Gold Rush town into what it calls “an energy-independent, cannabis-friendly hospitality destination.”
American Green Inc intends to spend another $2.5 million in the next 18 months to build up the infrastructure of the tiny town (official population: six, as of 2016). That includes plans to bottle cannabis-infused water, cultivation of marijuana and production of edibles.
The town’s current owner, Roxanne Lang, said the sale is still in escrow, but confirmed American Green is the buyer. She declined to reveal price before the sale closes but noted she and her late husband, Gerald Freeman, listed the property at $5m when they put it up for sale last year.
Asked what her husband would think of the buyers’ plans to turn Nipton into the pot paradise of the California desert, she laughed heartily.
“I think he would find a lot of humor in that,” she finally said, adding that as a Libertarian Freeman had no problem with people using marijuana, and as a proponent of green power he’d be all in favour of energy independence.
Struggling Small Towns
The company said it hopes to make the town a model for how struggling small towns across America can reinvent themselves
Marijuana tourism “has the power to completely revitalize communities in the same way gold did during the 19th century,” said David Gwyther, American Grower chairman and president, in a statement. “We are thrilled to begin work on this first-of-its-kind eco-tourism experience for conscious cannabis consumers.”
The town is located near the Nevada border, about three hours from Los Angeles and an hour from Las Vegas, but just about 10 minutes off the busy Interstate 15 that links the two cities. While still illegal at the federal level, recreational marijuana is legal in both California and Nevada.
A Cowen and Co. report issued last year found the legal marijuana industry is worth about $6 billion a year in the U.S. and could be worth $50 billion by 2026.
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