An analysis conducted by the Marijuana Business Daily shows that more marijuana retail shops are operating in low-income areas of Denver and Seattle than anywhere else in those cities.
By searching for median household income by zip code and comparing that to the locations of adult use stores in the 2 biggest recreational markets in the U.S., MBD found that 40% of shops in Seattle and almost 45% of recreational stores in Denver were located in zip codes that fall in the bottom 25th percentile of income.
“The portion of Denver and Seattle residents located in areas where income is in the bottom 25th percentile is 26% and 27%, respectively, ruling out the possibility that retailers are simply choosing to locate in population-dense areas of the city,” MBD reported.
There are, however, two specific factors that have pushed retail shops into lower income areas:
- Since less businesses want to set up shop in low-income areas, it is harder for building owners to attract tenants.
- Since it is harder for these landlords to attract tenants, they are less discerning when accepting new ones, tending to care less about the stigma that still surrounds legal cannabis retailers.
As a consequence, marijuana retailers have gone where the rent is cheaper and where their operation is more accepted. But over time, experts expect more retail shops in higher income areas as the stigma around cannabis lessens and landlords/neighborhoods become more accepting of marijuana retailers.
In the future, when marijuana is more “fully legal” than it is today and is accepted more on par with alcohol, you may even see high-end cannabis shops that only cater to those looking to spend top dollar on the most potent strains in the world. Gleaming dispensaries right next to pet daycares for the rich and expensive spas.
But when you look at the cannabis industry right now compared to other industries, you see an industry just getting started; one in its infancy, if you will. There is still a lot of growing to do and a lot of areas of the cannabis market unexplored.
And when all is said and done, what’s wrong with people with lower incomes having better access to legal, adult use marijuana? Since they are likely more stressed out, on average, than someone with more money, maybe it’s better that they have a shorter distance to travel for some relief.