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420 Property considers the real estate side of the cannabis industry – Westfair Online

Ryan George is blazing a new path on an often-overlooked aspect of the country’s growing cannabis industry: real estate. George launched 420 Property in 2016 and it has since become the premier platform for growers, dispensaries, retailers and distributors to find space for their businesses.

“I have a background in real estate and commercial real estate,” said the Sacramento, California-based George. “About 2010 or 2011, I had some clients that were trying to find some very specific-use properties that in the end were for cannabis. But when I was trying to find the properties at the time it was very difficult.

Ryan George, contributed photo.

“You had to call around and kind of tiptoe around the taboo of cannabis with landlords,” George recalled of his early efforts. “You had to do it in a professional way, but if you just came out and said, ‘Are you okay with a medical marijuana tenant?’, you really ran the risk of the broker slamming the phone in your ear.”

That experience inspired him to create his company’s website, since he knew that others would need to find the same properties, and that other people would be searching for places to work within the industry. But while the idea occurred to him after those dealings, he had to wait several years for legalization efforts to move forward.

Today, several states, including Connecticut have legalized recreational use and many more ensured legalized medical uses. George said that there are a couple of factors, which are more important within the cannabis industry when considering sites. Warehouses are desirable for most producers, as they don’t need many of the facilities and considerations of other industrial processes. What they do need is an excellent electric hookup to operate lamps and water pumps for hydroponic systems.

Both medical dispensaries and recreational retailers want much of what a typical store is after, according to George. But in addition to high-traffic areas with ample parking they prioritize security due to the value of their product and the cash they will need to keep on hand until federal legalization lets them work with banks more readily.

When it comes to outdoor growing facilities, location is far and away the most important factor. According to George, the state may produce some plants with commercial applications such as pre-rolled products, but the high-grade flowers that consumers tend to prefer will be hard to produce in the state.

Ironically, outdoor cannabis farming in the state could face a reverse situation from the Connecticut’s historic tobacco farms where shade-grown leaves were prized for their aesthetics and used to wrap cigars.

The Bethel farm listed for sale on 420 Property. Photo by Justin McGown.

420 Propertiy runs on a “freemium” model, which means it is free to post and read listings, but there are a number of enhancements which customers can pay for so their postings reach larger audiences. George’s site also benefits from the fact that while federal regulations currently hamper transportation of cannabis across state lines, the property side of the business is only subject to the usual real estate regulations.

Currently, six Connecticut properties — one in Bethel and five in Hartford County — plus one piece of processing equipment in Easton are listed on 420 Property, but George said he expects that number to grow, particularly in the near future. He also indicated that there may well be a spate of “flipping” where warehouses in a poor state may be acquired on the cheap, given upgraded power hookups and renovated in anticipation of rising demand.

“I’m very excited about the East Coast,” George said of the potential for a cannabis-oriented real estate market in the region. “The East Coast has been a developing market for the past few years, I’m waiting for Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, all to come online. It’s been a slower process, but it will be big.”

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