BY: ROBYN LYNN
The fact that I’m able to write a blog post called “Blaze On” and release it on 4/20, knowing I won’t receive an inbox full of criticism, is proof that the times are a-changing, and I don’t think Bob Dylan anticipated this. About a month ago, Crain’s Chicago called Chicago the Silicon Valley of Pot and said “For the first time in a generation, Chicago is the early leader in a fast-growing new industry that’s generating jobs and wealth.” It feels good to be ahead of the trend for once.
Three of the largest publicly traded companies known for growing and selling marijuana call Chicago home. Green Thumb Industries, Cresco Labs, and Verano Holdings have a combined 2021 estimated revenue of $2.5 billion and have sparked job creation in an industry many people want to be in.
This is good news for investors. One observation to note, as it relates to commercial real estate, is the placement of dispensaries. Once poorly located in, run down retail complexes and charged high rents, dispensaries are now moving into class A space and bringing fancy boutique vibes with them. Can weed be the catalyst to make retail great again?
What about industrial real estate? As if Industrial needs any more positive attention, opportunities are being created here as well. Innovative Industrial Properties, the first and only cannabis related REIT to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, owns 67 properties totaling 5.8 million rentable square feet. They combine the capital of investors to purchase industrial assets specifically for the cannabis industry and their model includes leasing them back to cannabis operators.
As rules regarding cannabis and real estate become clearer in each jurisdiction it is likely this will have a positive impact on commercial assets. Hopefully Chicago can remain attractive to these companies and maintain its mark in the marijuana industry for years to come.