Sunday, June 8, 2014

Self-Storage and Medical Marijuana

Society has changed and evolved so much that the use of marijuana is no longer illegal in certain places. Matter-of-fact, the restrictions have been lifted in over 20 states and also the District of Columbia, giving these states a medical usage pass. This creates an interesting shift in the self-storage industry, because companies who are now able to distribute medical marijuana are turning to self-storage facilities to house their goods.

There are mixed feelings on the subject, but Self-Storage Associations in states where marijuana is legal are leery. Jackson White, president of the Colorado Self Storage Association said, “We will be following the implementation of the new marijuana law for a while, and then we will make a presentation to our members. Beyond that, we have no additional comment at this time.”

How to Keep It Legal

This could pose a problem for those locations where medical marijuana is not legal. The authorities are not as understanding as people passing those laws and frequently run into situations where people are using outdoor drive-up self-storage facilities to house their stash. Truthfully, although many states have made the use of medical marijuana in their state acceptable, it is still illegal under federal law. There are quite a few things to consider when marijuana is stored in self-storage facilities. Self-storage consultant Marc Goodin says that owners and managers of facilities need to think about the ramifications to the community and safety concerns.

“We all have a perception that drugs have a dark side to them and that people commit crimes to get their drugs. Why attract that to your facility? For $100 a month, I really don’t think it’s worth the negative perception or the safety concerns.”

Having marijuana stored in a facility also affects the liability insurance of the facility overall. In 2010, Gary Hite had a storage unit in California that was broken into and the thieves stole $35,000 worth of medical marijuana from that unit. The problem with that is the thieves tunneled through two layers of drywall to get to the product. That put other owners’ belongings at risk, and has now posed a problem for the facility.

As the trend continues and medical marijuana becomes more prevalent in the industry, this is an issue that needs to be addressed by storage facility owners. The need for specialized self-storage units may be an option in the near future just like wine or boat storage facilities. Until that time, due diligence must be done when it comes to monitoring what is being put in these units. One of the worst things that could happen is the federal authorities raiding your facility because of a tip they received.

How can this situation be resolved? The barriers are huge right now but could open the door to lucrative investments. If the trend toward legalizing medical marijuana continues, facility owners must rethink their strategy and focus their efforts on attracting a completely new dynamic of clientele. Only time will tell with this one. Stay tuned.


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