“Wait for the Regs” Says Cannabis Realtor

The Cannabeta Realty team, from left: Devon Binns, Daniel Kahn, Matte Namer, and Penelope Voss

For the founder and CEO of a cannabis realty company, Matte Namer has some unusual advice for people in the Finger Lakes looking to open a dispensary: wait to buy or lease real estate.

“I tell most people that it is probably too early to start making real estate deals for stores, ” Matte says. “ If they’re serious about starting a cannabis business, they can focus on other things right now.”

There are some exceptions, of course – especially if you’ve found the perfect location, have the money to pay for it and are willing to take the risk of not “winning” a license.

But generally, Matte says, prospective business owners should first gather their team and their capital, start learning about the industry and read the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. When New York state releases its regulations for dispensaries, then owners will be ready to apply for a license and procure real estate.

Matte, who uses they/them pronouns and is one of the few non-binary leaders in the industry, has been a cannabis activist for more than two decades. As a college student, they founded New York University’s Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter and worked at the Drug Policy Alliance. They also have years of experience working in real estate development, overseeing multimillion-dollar construction projects in Manhattan and working on hundreds of lease and sale transactions.

So when Connecticut, New Jersey and New York all legalized adult use within a short period of time, it was only natural that Matte wanted to combine the two interests. About a year ago, they started Cannabeta Realty, headquartered in Ithaca, the “first real estate brokerage firm in the tri-state area dedicated to serving the needs of the cannabis industry,” per its website.

Matte says this service is much needed.

“Cannabis real estate is actually very complicated and requires a very specific expertise,” they say. “Essentially, you need to be very familiar with the state laws of each state that you’re going to be working in. And then not only do you need to be familiar with the state laws, but you need to be familiar with all the different towns and villages that you’re going to be working in.”

In New York, Cannabeta Realty is working primarily with medical dispensaries looking to expand into the adult-use industry. But the company’s clients in other states are more diverse.

“We’re very, very active in New Jersey right now,” Matte says. “New Jersey is about eight to nine months ahead of where New York is, in terms of getting their program up and running.”

The company has only been around for about a year, but Matte plans to continue his activism by donating 10% of its profits to communities most harmed by the war on drugs.

“We’re coming into the industry on the backs of not only all the activists that have been working to change these laws for generations, but also tens of millions of people who have been in prison for draconian drug laws,” they say. “So I think that if you’re in this industry, and you just completely ignore that, that you’re really not correctly paying homage to where this is all coming from.”

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