Budding marijuana biz faces realty hurdles

There’s a quiet fight raging for property right now among businesspeople aspiring for a piece of Ohio’s nascent medical marijuana industry.

And that battle for real estate is acutely felt in the Northeast Ohio market, a region that will be called home by up to 18 of the state’s initial 60 dispensaries, or 30% of that business.

The window to submit applications for a dispensary license opened Nov. 3, but closes on Nov. 17. The most proactive entrepreneurs — who are also the most likely to get a permit — have been searching for locations to operate a potential business for many months or more.

And while it’s unclear how many will ultimately apply for a dispensary license, that business has lower barriers to entry and the most permits up for grabs versus the cultivating or processing operations, which all together comprise the three state-regulated marijuana businesses.

“It’s a sprint,” said Kevin Yates, a principal with Cleveland’s Allegro Realty Advisors. “The (draft) applications came out not that long ago. And in the intermediary period, people are trying to lock up as many locations as they want to apply for.”

Like Yates, many brokers are hearing from businesspeople in this market and across the country searching for a place to do business as showing that a site is secured — and that you have support from the local government — is a small yet critical part of the system the state uses to determine which applicants gets licensed.

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