Recreational Marijuana and its permeation into Boston’s Real Estate

Starting as early as July 1st, businesses will be able to begin the process of growing and distributing recreational marijuana. While many expect a rapid influx of dispensary-hopefuls chomping at the bit to claim coveted Boston retail space, the recreational marijuana market will likely be slow to its feet. In order to produce and sell marijuana, businesses must apply for a license, similarly to obtaining a liquor license.

  • Unless the business was already approved for medical marijuana, they will not be able to grow any marijuana until they are licensed (leading to a 4-6 month lag in inventory).
  • The only businesses that will be ready for the July 1st start date are existing medical dispensaries, which will likely already be established in a location and not need to acquire new retail spaces.
  • New dispensaries will face new zoning regulations impacting how and where they open. These regulations permit dispensaries to sell on main streets of Boston, but they cannot be within half a mile of one another and must be over 500 feet of existing elementary or high schools.

Recreational marijuana will undoubtedly change Boston’s retail front; it is just a matter of how quickly the changes will take place. For firms interested in hopping on a new market, expect delays anywhere from 6-12 months. As can be seen by past conflicts related to opening up medical dispensaries in Boston, recreational marijuana will be a tough sell.

In November 2017, Boston zoning board approved a dispensary on Newbury Street, but drew significant controversy from residents. If these businesses are able to withstand the arduous process of licensing and opening, they will be able to bask in the glory of an explosive untapped market, forever altering the commercial real estate industry.