(Nipton, California, Ken Lund, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0)

California county dampens plans to make entire town 420-friendly tourist destination

It appears that a company’s plans to turn a remote San Bernardino County town into a marijuana tourism mecca may go up in smoke.

Earlier this month, Arizona-based American Green announced it purchased the entire California town of Nipton for about $5 million to make it a hub of cannabis production mixed with bed-and-breakfast lodging and attractions like mineral baths.

The problem is that a county ordinance for unincorporated areas, including Nipton, bars all sales, distribution and production of cannabis, overriding the state’s recent move to legalize recreational marijuana.

Stephen Shearin, the project manager, said he is aware of the county law but he thinks something can be worked out. “That doesn’t mean this is not going to happen,” he said. “We’re concerned about it but not anxious.”

Lt. Sarkis Ohannessian of the San Bernardino County Sherriff’s Department, has a different view. He said the county counsel’s office sent American Green a letter on Aug. 9 six days after the announcement of the sale informing the company of the law and saying that it would address any violations with administrative citations and criminal enforcement if needed.

“This is not the first time this has happened,” he said. “People think San Bernardino County is the Wild West and they can do what they want.”

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