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The not-yet-legal cannabis industry is already driving up lease prices for industrial spaces that could be used for cultivation when the new laws take effect, according to a Portland Press Herald report. Lease prices in the Greater Portland area are already twice what they were six years ago, and local real estate brokers say that vacancy rates in the industrial sector are historically low.

“The economic opportunities for landlords are significant,” attorney Ted Kelleher of Drummond Woodsum said in the report. “Even though the process for the state granting licenses is a year away, people are already trying to secure properties.”

The medical cannabis industry has already helped to drive the low vacancy rates in the region, from 7.86 percent in 2011 to 3.38 percent in 2015. Maine cannabis growers are also more willing to pay higher rates for space – which have reached as much as $10 per square foot for the first time.

Greg Boulos of Portland’s CBRE | The Boulos Co. said the cannabis industry has “come out of the shadows,” explaining that cultivators are typically looking for properties that are 5,000 to 10,000 square feet and secluded from neighbors.

However, as the new law rolls out it’s likely that localities will choose to enact individual moratoriums and outright industry bans.

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