Jason Fish, a cultivation manager at Airfield Supplies, irrigates marijuana plants in the mother room on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2016 in San Jose, Calif. Airfield Supplies is one of San Jose's 16 legal medical marijuana shops.(Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Business

Legal cannabis has commercial real estate markets heating up

It took Chris Abbott six stressful months to find a new space for his growing company. The 10,000-square-foot warehouse on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., was once used to store industrial-strength compressors. Now the gritty space, its cinder walls repainted white, resembles a cross between a high-end laboratory and an industrial bakery. It’s the home of Botanica, Abbott’s edible marijuana company.

While the ballot measure victories in November offered good news for cannabis businesses and their landlords, it also offered a cause for caution. President-elect Donald Trump offered qualified support for legalization while on the campaign trail, positing that medical marijuana “should happen” and that laws regarding recreational usage should be left in the hands of the states. But Senator Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican whom Trump tapped for U.S. attorney general, has been an outspoken opponent of marijuana laws.As usual, the outlook for the legal weed business is unclear. Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an organization that advocates against legalization, has suggested that the appointment should halt new investment in the industry. The National Cannabis Industry Association quickly issued a statement reminding Sessions that while he is anti marijuana, he is pro states rights.

So far, it’s business as usual. Abbott said he is plowing ahead with his expansion into Portland, Ore., confident that the ballot measures will hold, regardless of who holds executive office. On the opposite coast, broker Lamontagne said investors remain bullish on the Portland, Me., industrial real estate market, despite Sessions’s views on pot.

“That’s not on my radar at all,” said Lamontagne in an e-mail. “Perhaps it should be!”