California towns scramble to prepare for legal marijuana on Jan. 1

There is a small hotel, a 10-table restaurant, a general store. A backhoe kicked up tan dust amid the sheds and trailers where about 30 people live.

Once a thriving gold-mining town, Nipton is now an experiment.

The nation’s largest publicly traded marijuana company, American Green, recently bought the town for $5 million, with plans to develop a “cannabis-driven” resort on the edge of the Mojave.

The investment represents the promise some see in an expanding marijuana economy once the drug, on Jan. 1, becomes legal for recreational use in the nation’s most-populous state.

“This is the Hotel California,” said Stephen Shearin, a nomadic entrepreneur who manages the project here, reciting the lyrics of the Eagles song as he walked the site.

The company will double the size of the five-room Hotel Nipton, and the Whistlestop Cafe is being redone. Camping will be encouraged, and Shearin said the company will add to the half-dozen tents

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