Real Estate Agents, Rejoice! Kentucky Could Be the Next State to Legalize Weed
Regardless of how you feel about marijuana use, one thing is certain — legalizing it is growing in popularity. In just a few short years, the move to legalize cannabis has expanded from a handful of states to 14 states where recreational use is deemed legal by state law. Meanwhile, medical use with a doctor’s recommendation is legal in 35 states, but new legalization legislation in Kentucky could change that. If passed, this measure could spell new “highs” for Kentucky’s already smoking-hot real estate market.
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 sound reasoning. Still, it became powerful fear fodder for politicians and media outlets alike, forming attitudes towards the substance that still persist today.
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 those types 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, but 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.
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 much-needed tool in the fight against eastern Kentucky’s opioid crisis.
What Legalization Means for Real Estate
The legal marijuana business is estimated to be worth $13.6 billion and supports roughly 340,000 jobs. More jobs, of course, means more potential homebuyers or renters for those looking to invest in Kentucky. 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.
“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 Kentucky could bring about positive changes, particularly for real estate agents looking to take their careers even higher.