Leasing property for pot growing -- WA state only
March 3, 2016 9:35 AM   Subscribe

I've been going through a very nasty divorce. One possible outcome is that I will retain the property that my husband is currently residing in. On my own I will need to find a roommate or two to actually afford to stay in this beautiful home. However, I had a brainstorm hit me last night...maybe I could lease out the few acres of currently fallow field to a licensed pot grower here in my state. Extra info inside...

This has been a terrible experience for me, but that being said I am so happy to almost be over with it. Initially I was willing to let my spouse keep the family home, but since he refuses to work with me on a settlement in a reasonable manner, my lawyer and I have decided I should try and retain the family home. After all, it was sold to us at half of it's original value by my parents. However, since this home is in a flood plain the flood insurance on the home is pretty substantial and I would struggle to make payments. However, I was struck by a brainstorm last night that possibly I could lease out the 2 acres and gigantic shop out to a legal marijuana grower in the area. Believe me, there are many who grow in my rural location and I believe that between the property and the large shop for processing that this would be a good deal for everyone involved. I'd get a lease payment (and possibly percentage?) that would help me stay in the home. I know there are some concerns still with the Feds, but I believe a well written lease could protect me in that area.

I have other options as well. I could rent out the large shop separately and the field for horses or other farm animals. It already has an electric fence around most of it. I'm looking for the best way to make staying in my home affordable.

So, if you are involved in WA state marijuana growing and have some advice to send my way I'd love to hear from you either on here or through me mail.

Thank you in advance!
posted by OkTwigs to Law & Government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's 2ac and a shop. Why pot instead of any other produce crop? If it isn't insurable, it isn't insurable so it hardly matters what crop you're not insuring on it.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:41 AM on March 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Another idea: 2 acres and a gigantic shop, depending on your location and terrain, could be a great spot for a dog training and trialing facility.
posted by HotToddy at 9:58 AM on March 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

I know there are some concerns still with the Feds, but I believe a well written lease could protect me in that area.

No lease you draw up can protect you from federal criminal liability.
posted by dcjd at 11:00 AM on March 3, 2016 [10 favorites]


Legal pot growers have difficulty getting bank accounts because it has not been legalized at the federal level. So, you might be getting paid in cash. Plus, if the feds decide to crack down on this, you could potentially be charged as well.

If you are okay with that, maybe float something up on Craig's list?
posted by Michele in California at 11:03 AM on March 3, 2016

Alternatively, you wouldn't have to worry about a fallow field, legal liability, any of it if you just sold off the field and the shop. If you're not using it, and keeping the house is important to you, is that something you'd consider? If you were insuring a smaller property, your flood insurance payments might go down as well.
posted by R a c h e l at 11:52 AM on March 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

As far as I'm aware, growing MJ outdoors for recreational sale is not legal in Washington-- licensed growers must be indoors, for the moment. Not sure what the status of medical MJ farming is, though. Based on some cursory google searching, outdoor MMJ grows are as legal as they ever were, which seems to be mostly at the forbearance of the feds.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:01 PM on March 3, 2016

However, I was struck by a brainstorm last night that possibly I could lease out the 2 acres and gigantic shop out to a legal marijuana grower in the area

That grower would need a license to grow legally, and new Producer Licenses are not currently available in Washington State.

Aside from the various banking, mortgage and insurance/liability questions, it seems unlikely you will be able to find anyone who can obtain the legal documentation required to grow pot on your land. Consider looking for roommates, instead.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 1:42 PM on March 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Renting to a grower may be possible, but may not be in your best interest.

Though it does not appear to be illegal for a producer to grow outside as per initiative 502, the majority of growers prefer indoors for a number of reasons, including safety, pests, and weather. So the acreage doesn't factor in unless they want to build on it. But they will need to build someplace to grow the weed, unless the shop has enough square footage and can be modified to the proper specs (insulation, ventilation, enough power outlets, etc). There's also some wording in 502 that makes me wonder if it's legal to have a residential home on the same property, especially if you are not listed on the producer's license.

There's also the division of utilities. Weed needs water, and a *lot* of electricity to run lights. Is the shop on a separate water and electric meter? If not, are you allowed in your area to set up separate meters for one address? Is renting to a grower going to affect your divorce proceedings negatively, like your ability to retain the house? I would run that by your lawyer and see what they think.

The hard part: As a lungful of dragon points out, you will have to find someone who already has a license and needs more growing room. There is some odd language in the link there -- it says you are not allowed to change the location without re-applying, but there is also a bit that says there is an $80 fee for a site change. Not that many people have a license, as they didn't issue that many to begin with. So it may be very difficult to find someone who is able to rent from you.

The scary part: If the feds bust the operation, you may be held liable, carefully-worded lease or not. There's really no way to prevent it. You have to decide if that's a risk you are willing to take.

tl;dr: Risky and difficult. I would scrap this idea and sell/rent out the shop and acreage to someone else, or get some roommates.
posted by ananci at 4:05 PM on March 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Is your county permitting grow operations? Not all are, and that is going to be the first barrier. After that come a bunch more, including security requirements (like fences, cameras, etc), and the cost/difficulty in getting the grow permit at all. I'd look into this, but the value per acre of the lease may be a lot less than you are hoping for.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:54 PM on March 3, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks for all the input! I had my doubts it would be a good proposition, but I figured it was worth questioning the hive mind. Just tossing out all kinds of ideas to help me get a handle on which direction to head if this comes out the way I hope.
posted by OkTwigs at 5:59 PM on March 3, 2016

I don't have experience in your specific locality, but 2 acres and a shop space could be valuable to a variety of craftspeople, especially if it has water and robust power. You could set up a community maker space or coop and have legal crops in the field as well.
posted by a halcyon day at 8:06 PM on March 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

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