Cannabis legality isn’t often considered a factor driving in-state migration. But maybe it should be.
According to a tally of the America’s Hottest Housing Markets of 2016 compiled last week by Redfin, the real estate data website, five of the nation’s six hottest housing markets are in states that have legalized the adult use of cannabis.
California voters may turn that state adult-legal as soon as this November. If the Golden State is included, 9 of the top 10 housing markets are cannabis-friendly (either adult-legal or medical). Only two of the top 20 housing markets are in states where cannabis is completely illegal: Dallas-Ft. Worth, and Austin, Texas. (Sorry, Boston: Your hot housing market is technically in a medical marijuana state, but you’re nowhere near California when it comes to canna-friendliness.)
Here’s the chart Redfin put together:
Image via Redfin
What’s going on? Two things, maybe. Legalization provides a lot of jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. A recent report found that Oregon’s legal market has generated 2,100 retail jobs and $46 million in wages. At the end of 2015, the state of Colorado had issued 26,929 occupational licenses to workers in the marijuana industry, and the actual number of workers employed in the industry tends to be higher than those license figures imply, as many work in ancillary businesses that don’t touch the leaf.
But more than that, over the past three years legalization has become a powerful symbol of a state’s openness, progressive politics, and embrace of new ideas. Legalization makes a state that much more attractive to the young, ambitious, and intellectually curious. It’s exactly the kind of environment that attracts not just job seekers but job creators. A real-estate broker who moved to Denver from the South, shortly after legalization, once put it to me this way: “It’s a symbol of how open and tolerant the state is. I feel safe here.”