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.
American Green, which is 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 were 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.
Small towns have had mixed reactions to marijuana, even in states where it’s legal. That’s why American Green decided to take on the project: The company wants to demonstrate the benefits cannabis can provide.
American Green plans to include a new facility to manufacture water infused with CBD, the cannabis component that is typically associated with reducing pain and inflammation. The new Nipton will also have a production site for edible marijuana products, retail stores, and artist-in-residence programs.
The industry needs wider acceptance to fuel its growth. Cowen & Co., a provider of investment and banking services, is optimistic companies will succeed and forecasts the legal weed business growing to $50 billion by 2026 from $6 billion in 2016.
“The Gold Rush built this city,” Shearin said. “The Green Rush can keep it moving the way people envisioned it years ago.”