Demand for commercial real estate is up as Canada moves closer towards the legalization of marijuana. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Legal pot spurs demand for commercial real estate, particularly in Alberta

TORONTO — Industry players say Canada’s impending legalization of marijuana is spurring demand for commercial real estate, particularly for retail shops in Alberta, where the government is selecting private operators to conduct over-the-counter sales.

Real estate consultancy JLL says its phone has been “ringing off the hook” as cannabis companies look to secure space to cultivate the plant and seek retail space to sell the final product.

Research manager Gaurav Mathur said during a panel discussion at an industry conference in Toronto that commercial real estate prices haven’t risen yet, but he expects that to change after legalization, expected later this year.

Mathur also expects “offshoots” of the domestic cannabis industry, such as supply and accessories shops, to drive demand for commercial real estate going forward.

Canopy Growth’s vice president of stakeholder and government relations Jeff Ryan told the panel that the firm recently shifted focus towards retail as it aims to set up shops in provinces such as Alberta, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan.

Ryan says the licensed producer has encountered stiff competition for retail space in urban centres in Alberta, where the province expects to issue roughly 250 licenses to private operators in the first year.

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