As the legal cannabis industry continues to expand, so does the demand for niche markets within the sector. One of those demands is the increasing amount of space that is needed for cultivation and processing facilities, and also retail space for dispensary locations. With the rise of extremely popular online shopping experiences such as Amazon, more and more shopping malls are closing their doors due to bankruptcy. Because of this, mall owners often use alternative methods to find tenants.

One such example of this is currently occurring in Copper Country Mall in Houghton, Michigan. According to M-Live.com, the mall’s owner is interested in entering into the cannabis industry by bringing a grow facility to the mall. In December, the township will decide on whether permits will be issued for the requested facility in the former JC Penney’s department store.  

Due to its illegality at the federal level and the unfortunate stigma still attached to the plant medicine, managers of shopping malls decline most proposals for legal cannabis dispensaries. Even though retail dispensaries, and especially grow facilities, in former department stores and malls are currently a rarity in the U.S., it could very well change within the next few years. Sooner or later, these mall owners will have to admit the reality of the situation: more and more Americans prefer to buy items online than they do in stores. At this time, legal cannabis cannot be purchased and shipped through the mail without the sender experiencing legal troubles. It’s a no-brainer of a business move – it’s simply an objective fact that a cannabis dispensary will sell more inventory that just about any other product, and the sales figures in legal states reflect that reality.

Michigan is currently experiencing changes in their medical marijuana licensing regulations that are posing challenges and causing confusion, thus muddying the waters even further. Communities can opt in or out if they would like to adopt local ordinances permitting legal cannabis stores in their area.

The Copper Country Mall is managed by commercial development and leasing firm, Moyle. Currently at the mall, you’ll find a Veteran’s center, a Department of Health and Human Services, a Gogebic Community College, a laser tag arena, a cinema and Dunham’s. Most of those locations sound like pretty solid demographics that might be interested in buying some medical cannabis.

A proposed medical cannabis dispensary in Pennsylvania is having even worse luck. Mall owner Simon Property Group is taking would-be dispensary owners to court. Simon hopes to prevent the opening of the dispensary, which would be located in what used to be a restaurant outlet at the former Franklin Mills Mall.