The real estate industry has been on a high after the legalization of marijuana, but as we examined in “Part 1: The Real Estate Bloom,” getting involved in this budding industry comes with risks, the majority of which stem from marijuana being listed as an illegal Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Under the CSA, it is illegal to possess, cultivate, and/or sell marijuana or to “knowingly open, lease, rent, use or maintain any place … for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, or using any controlled substance.” Additionally, under the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, the federal government is allowed to seize property that is connected to illegal drug activity. This federal illegality opens up the marijuana industry to a number of vulnerabilities. Indeed, federal prosecution of marijuana activities has been relaxed after the issuance of the Cole Memorandum, which instructed federal prosecutors to only focus its efforts on certain issues related to the legalization of marijuana in the states. Such issues include, among others, preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing marijuana revenue from ending up in the hands of criminal enterprises, and preventing the diversion of marijuana across state lines. However, although the Cole Memorandum resulted in the federal government taking a hands-off approach in its enforcement of cannabis prohibition, we may see a federal push back under the current administration, which has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the legalization of cannabis.
The Real Estate Bloom
The real estate industry is booming in states where marijuana is blooming—that is, in states that have legalized the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana. Here is a quick overview. In November 2016, voters in California, Maine and Massachusetts, all approved the legalization of recreational marijuana use. On January 1, 2018, California’s law will go into effect, and the state will start issuing temporary licenses to cannabis businesses. On December 6, 2017, Los Angeles approved a series of cannabis regulations, making it the largest city in the United States with legal recreational marijuana. Massachusetts will implement retail marijuana sales on July 1, 2018. While Maine has plans to open retail marijuana stores in the summer of 2018, it is unclear exactly when their laws will go into effect. Continue reading