Mississippi Real Estate Could Grow Even Greener
Despite heavy criticism from local politicians, religious groups, and various media outlets, the people of Mississippi have spoken. This past year, in an impressive display of bipartisan support, Mississippians overwhelmingly voted to legalize medicinal marijuana. It was so popular, in fact, that as many as seven in 10 voters chose legalization. Regardless of where you fall on the matter, the overwhelming support of the issue can only mean one thing — the legalization of marijuana is going to happen eventually. And that’s great news for real estate agents.
Marijuana and America Go Way Back
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 lawmakers noticed its popularity among a new wave of Mexican immigrants.
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 towards the substance that still persist throughout much of the country today. Perhaps seven out of 10 of you would agree.
Cannabis Under the Microscope
Thanks to the 1936 propaganda film, “Reefer Madness”, the general consensus on cannabis was that it would cause “the loss of all power to resist physical emotions leading finally to acts of shocking violence ... ending often in incurable insanity,” and that cannabis was a gateway drug that would only lead to hard drug use.
Of course, everyone reacts differently to every drug, even legal ones like alcohol, but as a whole, scientists have debunked many of the myths propagated by that type of media and have taken a more balanced approach to studying marijuana’s effects.
“You can become addicted to cannabis, though most people don’t,” Dr. Kevin Hill, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School told The Harvard Gazette. He also says that it’s also not a miracle drug that’s without risks either.
People can still become dependent on the drug, and some research shows heavy long-term users can experience adverse effects, including measurable changes in the brain. On the other hand, occasional use seems to be less harmful than previously thought, if not downright beneficial.
“The report found ‘moderate evidence’ of no link between marijuana smoking and lung cancer or marijuana use and head and neck cancers, which are commonly linked to tobacco. There was also ‘moderate evidence’ of better cognitive performance among individuals with psychotic disorders and a history of marijuana use,” writes German Lopez, a reporter for Vox whose article profiled a comprehensive study performed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Ironically, a significant portion of marijuana research began in the 1960s at the University of Mississippi. At that time, the university was the only federally approved institution permitted to carry out research on the substance. Today, the University of Mississippi continues to perform research on marijuana.
Proponents of legalization also argue that cannabis use is less harmful to one’s health than alcohol and generally safer to use. It’s also far less addictive than widely available drugs and could be a less risky way for those with certain medical conditions to manage pain — a valuable tool in the fight against Mississippi’s prescription drug crisis.
The Current State of Marijuana in Mississippi
As it currently sits, recreational cannabis use is illegal in the state of Mississippi. However, beginning in August of 2021, residents with a physician’s prescription for cannabis should be able to begin purchasing and using cannabis for medicinal purposes. "What's happening here in Mississippi is people are starting to recognize the benefits of marijuana (for) medicinal use," Kevin Lavine, a criminology professor at Jackson State University, told the Clarion Ledger.
What Legalization Means for Mississippi
Real Estate Although Mississippi is currently in the “medicinal” phase, the legal marijuana business is estimated to be worth $13.6 billion and supports roughly 340,000 jobs nationwide. Naturally, more jobs mean more potential homebuyers or renters who will require real estate services in Mississippi. It also means cash could become more prevalent in residential sales.
Furthermore, a study performed by the National Association of REALTORS® reads: “As marijuana intersects with real estate, the demand for both residential and commercial properties is a growing market.” In places where marijuana was legalized, 16-21% of agents saw an increased demand for land, 34-42% saw an increased demand for warehouse space, and 18-19% noticed an increased demand for storefront properties.
If Mississippi follows other states, a great deal of tax revenue will be reinvested in the state’s education system, and improved schools could help lift property values in certain areas. Ranked 48th on USA Today’s list of states with the best and worst schools, Mississippi could certainly benefit from the marijuana tax boost.
“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®.
All in all, the legalization of marijuana in Mississippi could bring about positive changes, particularly for real estate agents looking to take their careers even higher.