Nipton, a small ghost town edging the Mojave Desert in California, has a vivid history. In 1905, a trail of cattle ranchers passed through with their wagons. Not long after, the California Gold Rush brought miners in droves to the tiny desert town. Today, only six inhabitants populate this deserted place. That is about to change: The “Green Rush” is about to turn it into a popular marijuana town.
Recently, American Green bought the little town for nearly $5 million. The cannabis-focused consultancy and technology company has plans to reinvent the town and make it a hotspot for marijuana tourism. It envisions a ganja paradise, a place where visitors can tour a cannabis farm, buy from the cannabis dispensaries, swim in the natural springs, and puff away freely at a weed-friendly bed and breakfast.
One of the consultants on American Green’s Nipton development project, Stephen Shearin, discussed the company’s aims with Business Insider. He said the plan is to “create a community that is accepting and understanding” about marijuana use, which under federal law, remains illegal. Currently, the town has a general store, a solar farm, and a five-room hotel.
Shearin told Business Insider, “The idea here is not to create ‘Woodstock 2017.’ It is about creating an environment where people come to work and share in a community.” Earlier this year, the town’s broker made it clear that the company would need to pay cash in full. After four-month long negotiations, American Green did just that.
The company secured over 120 acres, all properties within it, as well as a working solar farm that would eventually allow it to operate completely off-grid. According to Shearin, American Green is committed to the continuation of existing businesses in the small town, which includes the little hotel and general store. There will also be opportunities for locals to gain employment with the company.
Until now, few have ever heard of American Green. Founded in 2009, the company is a publicly traded technology firm involved in seed-to-sale tracking systems. It also has a dispensary-locator app, and it distributes cannabis-dispensing vending machines. Its other projects include manufacturing and selling hemp-derivative oils, which is a type of marijuana without THC, which is the psychoactive compound.
The company adds its oil to mints, capsules, and balms, which it claims provides long-lasting relief for medical patients. Hemp water will be among the first products manufactured in Nipton, and it will use water from a local aquifer for its infusions. However, the medicinal value of hemp oil remains a hotly contested issue, and there are good reasons for this.
Extracting just a small amount of CBD, the chemical compound responsible for many of marijuana’s therapeutic benefits, requires vast amounts of hemp. According to some advocacy groups, it is too resource-intensive for too little a product. Utilizing vast tracts of land and huge amounts of water to extract a little CBD may not be environmentally sustainable.
Nonetheless, the company begins construction of infrastructure immediately. However, it may take years to set up, as it must go through the legal process of establishing Nipton’s first legal site for cannabis cultivation. As an unincorporated town, American Green will first need to incorporate it before it can even apply for a cultivation license.