LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Driving through Lawton, many of you have may have noticed the high number of Medical Marijuana dispensaries around town.
But with two dips in state sales tax collections in the last few months, the question is how many of them can survive.
When State Question 788 passed, the influx of this new, stigmatized industry began exploding all over the state.
One commercial broker in Lawton said that has done wonders for the economy, especially the commercial property market.
“It has taken properties that were more difficult to get tenants in, and filled those properties. There’s no doubt it’s good for the economy, and for real estate,” said Matt Setters, the managing broker at Cummins - Setters Commercial Partners.
But Setters said that increase can’t last forever.
“It seems like there’s literally one on every corner. We are starting to see some shrinkage occur already, where the grows are going up for sale, and some of the dispensaries are drying up. They have hit parity, there’s no doubt about it,” said Setters.
He said between dispensaries, grow facilities, and processors - there are close to 100 total in the county, but that isn’t stopping hopeful business owners from trying to get their foot in the door.
“We still get calls today, and in every county we operate, we still get calls for new locations. For grows, processing, or dispensaries, and those people are late to the game," said Setters.
Brad Cooksey, with the Lawton Economic Development Corporation said this new industry coming to town was exciting, but now that excitement has turned to concern based on the increasing saturation.
“Lawton only has so many citizens in this area, and there are only so many citizens who are going to buy that product. If the demand isn’t there, then obviously there will be some people who fall by the wayside,” said Brad Cooksey, the LEDC President.
Setters said for these businesses, and especially the new ones, their goal now should be to do whatever they can to separate themselves, and give people a reason to choose them over another location.
“There’s going to have to be something to separate you from the other 53 grows in the county, and 28 dispensaries in Lawton. Those numbers are significant, there’s not 28 of anything else in Lawton," said Setters.
Setters said unless there is a significant market crash, Lawton won’t see these dispensaries close up shop all at once.
But unless something changes with their business model, he said he doesn’t expect them all to last that much longer, and would not be surprised if the next thing to happen would be mergers and acquisitions between these locally owned medical marijuana businesses.