• Cities with legal weed see demand surge for industrial space
  • CoStar study saw rents in Denver, Seattle outpace other cities

Industrial rents in already-pricey cities like Los Angeles and Boston are poised to rise further thanks to one burgeoning industry: cannabis.

Marijuana startups are snapping up space in those cities as part of a wave of legalization that was set in motion by ballot-box victories last November, when eight states voted to permit cannabis in some form. California and Massachusetts will begin allowing residents to purchase recreational pot — not just medicinal marijuana — making the states especially attractive to entrepreneurs.

Legal weed already has a track record of driving up rents. The going rate for industrial real estate in Denver, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon — places that previously relaxed cannabis laws — have grown faster than in cities where the substance is still banned, according to new research from CoStar Group Inc. The firm, which tracks data on commercial properties, expects the trend to continue in cities in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, all of which are now legalizing recreational marijuana.

Denver rents rose 33 percent from the first quarter of 2014 through May 2017. Industrial rents in Seattle and Portland each rose 27 percent in the same period. That compares with 19 percent gains in the other 54 largest U.S. markets.

Cannabis is the first industry in a long time to have such a clear impact, said Rene Circ,…