Pot of Gold?

On January 1, Illinois became the 11th state, along with the District of Columbia, to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. There’s interest across the country as well, with voters in as many as 10 states finding the question of legalized recreational marijuana on their ballots later this year. A look at tax revenues in states where legalization has occurred explains some of the interest; Washington took in $319 million in 2018, followed by $300 million in California and $266.6 million in Colorado. Overall in 2018, legal marijuana was a $1.4 billion industry in the U.S. There is “tremendous opportunity” in cannabis retail, says Wendy Berger, principal of WBS Equities, LLC, in Chicago. “This industry is exploding. We describe this often as Prohibition 2.0, and the question is: How does the real estate industry play a role in this tidal wave of demand?” Cannabis, notes Berger, “is one of the very few areas of brick-and-mortar that’s growing at a rapid pace so that alone has attracted attention. If you’re a developer and own a building with a vacant storefront or a broker and you have focused on retail, you have to ask: What’s the next growth industry?” For cannabis consumers, she says, “my feeling is that they want to do this legally. They want a safe, consistent experience; they want laboratory testing; they want a regulated product. They want to be able to go into a retail store and get educated, so the retail environment matters. These are not the head shops of our youth. These are beautiful, well-lit open spaces. They’re places where you can get comfortable with a product that maybe you’re unfamiliar with at some level.” Click to read more at www.ccim.com.