House Bill 3248 Is Rollin’ Through Austin
Newly introduced legislation could make Texas the next state to legalize cannabis. This push to legalize, more specifically House Bill 3248, would allow counties and municipalities to adopt an order or ordinance allowing recreational marijuana use. If passed, Austin and some of its surrounding counties would likely be the first spots in the Lone Star State to embrace the new measure — not just because there are more music venues per capita in Austin than anywhere else in the country or because Willie Nelson is in town — but because Austin police say they already don’t enforce minor marijuana infractions. The legalization of recreational marijuana, along with Austin’s already strong business appeal, could send real estate prices to new heights.
The State of Texas and Weed Have a Difficult Past
Over the course of United States history, marijuana has been legal longer than it has been illegal. In fact, the United States government didn’t really begin cracking down on marijuana until the early 1900s when an incident in El Paso, during which a man killed a police officer in a fit of violent rage, caught the attention of lawmakers. Marijuana use was blamed for the man’s violent behavior and legislation, criminalizing the substance was passed, much to the dismay of local doctors.
At that time, the substance was popular among a new wave of Mexican immigrants. Thus, many scholars agree that the illegalization of cannabis was more of a manifestation of xenophobia, racism, and lack of understanding rather than a decision based on thorough scientific research. Still, it became powerful fear fodder for politicians and media outlets alike, forming attitudes and laws towards the substance that still persist today, albeit in areas outside of Austin.
Where Texas and Weed Stand Today
As it sits, the recreational use of cannabis is illegal in Texas. Medical cannabis, however, is legal in Texas in very limited scenarios. In 2015, Gov. Abbott signed the Texas Compassionate Use Act into law, allowing people with conditions like epilepsy to access cannabis oil. Then, in 2019, the governor signed House Bill 3703, which expanded the list of qualifying conditions like ALS to use “low-THC” cannabis oil, meaning it contains 0.5% or less THC.
What the Legalization of Marijuana Means for Austin Real Estate
Already, some of the state’s first medicinal dispensaries have sprouted in Austin, and there are more to follow. According to the “Marijuana and Real Estate: A Budding Issue” report published by the National Association of REALTORS®, the legalization of marijuana can have a positive effect on both residential and commercial markets.
“From property owners to manufacturers to those who simply want to engage for leisure – it all touches real estate in some form,” said Dr. Jessica Lautz, Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insights for the National Association of REALTORS®.
If legalized, cannabis could send the demand for Austin real estate even higher. The industry already supports roughly 340,000 jobs nationwide, and Austin’s eagerness to embrace the industry would add significantly to that figure. Of course, more jobs translate into more homebuyers and investors. There would also likely be a sharp uptick in the sales of commercial and retail properties that are fit for the sale and production of cannabis products.
This potential boon adds to a growing interest in Austin. Just last April, Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote a tweet calling for more housing supply in the Austin area.
Urgent need to build more housing in greater Austin area!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 4, 2021
But it’s not likely developers will be able to outpace the smokin’ hot demand for Austin property. Zillow has already named Austin its hottest market of 2021, with prices expected to rise sharply over the next year. Legalizing cannabis could send things even higher. The only question that remains is, are you ready for the weed boom?
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