It was five years ago that Luke Maroney decided to uproot his indoor cannabis grow in Oakland and move to a small estate farm in Northern California’s Nevada County. He relished the ability to work outdoors—and sure he didn’t mind trading the outsized electrical bill for free sunshine.
As California creeps closer to legalization, a commercial land grab has led to soaring lease and sale prices.
But while Maroney has appreciated the change of scenery, the lease rates are another story. Maroney has agreed to shell out $5,000 a month for a 10-acre plot—of which less than one acre is cannabis. If it weren’t for cannabis, he said, the property would typically rent for closer to $2,000.
“I was ready to just say, enough with cultivation, because it is getting very expensive,” said Maroney.
Maroney’s not alone. High rents, reluctant landlords, and a diminishing pool of available properties are just a few of the major real estate issues facing those in the cannabis industry today. As California creeps closer to legalization in January, entrepreneurs up and down the Golden State are clamoring to secure farmland, industrial warehouses, retail storefronts, and more—a land grab that has led to soaring lease and sale prices.
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As a general rule of thumb, cannabis-friendly properties often lease for two to three times the amount that “traditional” businesses could rent them for. In Monterey County for example, a 10-acre plot of land that would have sold for $2.5 million last year, the New York Times reports, now goes for $5 million.
Coupled with complex regulatory requirements and municipal zoning restrictions on where cannabis businesses can operate, property-hunting can be daunting for industry newbies and veterans alike.
But where cannabis operators see obstacles,