NIPTON (CBSLA) — The small town of Nipton wants to be California’s pot mecca but one thing is standing in their way.
Trains run between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City every day. There isn’t much reason for the trains to stop in Nipton.
That’s because resident Dennis Venson says that only a dozen people live out here in the desert near the California-Nevada border.
“When I was here as a boy, the train used to go by. They had a hook and they used to drop the mail on this hook. It wouldn’t even stop sometimes, you know,” Venson says.
He says he’s watched the few buildings that were here fall into disrepair over the years. And he says no one seems to care.
“This town has been bought and sold many times over my lifetime. people who came and bought the town, they didn’t really do much with it,” he says.
That changed this summer when an Arizona-based marijuana company called American Green bought the town — all 80 acres of it– for $5 million.
The company says the goal is to turn Nipton into the first cannabis-friendly hospitality destination in the country. They envision bottling cannabis-infused water and offer marijuana treatments on their mineral baths and wellness centers. Even building with hemp products.
As CBS2’s Tina Patel reports, there is only one problem. None of this is legal right now.
Just how much Nipton will be able to grow will depend on San Bernardino County and whether they will relax their regulations on cannabis businesses.
The current county ordinance — passed last year — prohibits any commercial cannabis activity in unincorporated areas, like Nipton.
That means no cultivation, processing dispensing or transporting. American Green won’t be able to grow marijuana here and they won’t be able to sell it.
“A lot of municipalities are shunning cannabis, just the knee jerk of no, not t in my town,” says American Green’s marketing director Mike Rosati.
The company believes the town of Nipton can still be cannabis friendly.
Freddie Wyatt, who was brought in to run the town’s newly renovated hotel and general store, comes from Colorado where marijuana is already legal. He says the new industry hasn’t been fully embraced there.
“You have cannabis tourism that people are coming to these states just to experience what cannabis has to offer in a legal format, but yet, where do you go?,” he says. You can’t go to your local hotel room to smoke, he says, it’s illegal there, too.
Wyatt says that won’t be a problem for Nipton after January 1. That’s when recreational marijuana use becomes legal in California .
“With the RV park and the hotel rooms, we can be cannabis friendly. and we have camping sites. you’re allowed to smoke in your own domain, so if we rent you a campsite and you decide to have a late night smoke, it’s perfectly legal because you’re on private property,” says Wyatt.
American Green hopes that down the road they’ll be able to work with the county and push for the laws to change.
They also believe that eventually everyone will realize that the potential for a place like Nipton is limitless — the center of a new green rush.
“There’s nothing the matter with patience. we’re in a marathon here. This isn’t a sprint. If San Bernardino wants to sit back and see how the rest of the state complies and operates, it’s a perfectly great idea,” says Wyatt. “This is a whole new frontier. And by the way, it’s not going anywhere.”