Medical marijuana comes with real (estate) consequences
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago in stoner time, I wrote:
"Out of sight, out of mind, and probably out of the realm of possibility — that probably explains the silence on legalized marijuana in commercial property circles in Oklahoma.
"Why bother with it? Pot is still illegal here, and probably destined to stay illegal here for a long, long time, despite the hopes and goals of proponents of decriminalizing it.
"Might as well worry about air rights over Bricktown when pigs fly."
Well, did y'all see that flock of Durocs hoofin' it over the ballpark on June 26?
Way back in November 2014, when I dared write about the Institute of Real Estate Management's white paper on the subject, "Marijuana in Property Management," I was roundly mocked, accused of sensationalism and dang near hooted off the internet.
I freely admit to having a little fun with it, mainly because legal marijuana, even for medical use, did seem so far-fetched for Oklahoma.
I wrote that I had to b-roach the subject in case pigs did fly, but would only hit the "high" points, and promised it wouldn't be a "puff" piece.
Truly, though, the silence among property brokers here was conspicuous considering that national real estate organizations felt obliged to at least comment on the Green Wave. Nearly half the states had legalized prescribed medical pot.
That was then. When Oklahoma voters legalized prescribed medical marijuana last month, it took just three days for the silence to be broken.
Price Edwards & Co. shot out a mass email: "Potential Medical Marijuana Grow/Processing Facility for Sale." The attached flyer was more subdued: "Industrial Facility with Yard for Sale."
Broker Bob Puckett, who has the listing, said Friday he'd gotten some hits — I simply cannot resist — on the offering.
It comprises three buildings totaling 55,392 square feet of space on 4.25 acres at 101 N Ann Arbor Ave., on offer for $3.2 million. Puckett said the site is heavy on electrical power, making it ideal for a light-intensive, hydroponic growing operation.
It could be too early for such a big site, especially since the State Board of Health has thrown so much into the air with its far-reaching and "creative" emergency regulations.
Let the growing-processing business get going, then the usual failures, mergers and acquisitions common to any emerging sector will lead to operations that could use such a space.
And, now, since 57 percent of voters got everybody else's attention on Election Day — including people working in commercial real estate — here are the Institute of Real Estate Management's updated thoughts on the subject, by sectors most directly affected by growing, processing and dispensing marijuana:
"Marijuana plants require significant light, water and humidity to thrive. A plant can require 16-20 hours of light daily, the ideal growing temperature is between 75-86 degrees, and plants are often grown hydroponically. These factors should be taken into consideration when deciding whether to lease to licensed growers.
"In addition, there have been cases of federal law enforcement raiding properties growing substantial quantities of marijuana and holding the growers and the owner or manager of the property liable. Security concerns should also be considered since the tenant may become a target for theft of marijuana plants, products and equipment. ..."
"States with marijuana laws also have processes for licensing dispensaries. These dispensaries are frequently located in retail locations, often in stand-alone buildings, but may also be located in shopping centers.
"When leasing or selling space to a licensed marijuana dispensary, managers and owners should take into consideration the impact on neighboring businesses and local residents, as well as federal civil asset forfeiture laws and municipal zoning laws. Additionally, since this is a cash-only business, security concerns should be identified and addressed."
Now, if you're still laughing over pot, grab a bag of Doritos and settle down. This stuff is serious.
Read the Institute of Real Estate Management's paper, "Marijuana in Property Management," here: tinyurl.com/IREMmarijuana.