A growing number of cannabis companies are choosing to lease commercial space rather than buy it, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The new survey of NAR members found that in states where recreational marijuana has been legalized within the last five years, 18 percent of members surveyed reported an uptick in buying property over leasing over the past 12 months by cannabis businesses, a more than 10 percent drop from 2021. Similar decreases in property purchases were reported in states where cannabis has been legal for more than five years (6 percent decrease) and states where just medical marijuana is legal (17 percent drop). NAR members are also seeing a big increase in demand for warehouse space, land, and retail storefronts for cannabis businesses.
It’s hard to determine whether the more leasing versus buying is a result of the high interest rate environment or a number of other factors within the markets that the survey’s respondents work in, given how different each market can look. But what’s clear is how much of an impact new legislation on cannabis has had on the real estate sector. The number of states passing legislation to legalize marijuana use has been growing steadily over the past few years, and what it means for the real estate industry has led to a lot of conversations between cannabis companies and commercial real estate owners and brokers. Many of those questions have centered on long held stigmas on marijuana use and what effect retail cannabis stores could have on surrounding businesses. There are a few recent studies that have looked at this dynamic but as more laws are passed, we can expect to see a lot more research in this space.