Several MMJ businesses in Oaklahoma are looking for new space to run their business, thanks to the 7-Eleven. The company giant recently refused to renew the leases of marijuana companies, which are tenants of the building that 7-Eleven took earlier this year.
In January last year, Dallas-based convenience store giant 7-Eleven Inc. bought Oklahoma’s local 7-Eleven franchise and acquired several buildings in Oklahoma City. At the time of the sale, the company’s property manager sent an e-mail message to all building tenants, explaining that the acquisition would not change anything in its lease allocation.
Many tenants’ leases will expire on July 1 this year, including several medical marijuana dispensaries, processors, and planting facilities. According to previous agreements, tenants want their contracts to renew automatically. But on June 16, every cannabis company that rented these properties received a telephone notification that their lease would not be extended.
The company’s decision forced these companies to find a new home in the next two to six weeks-during the global pandemic. This decision affects several medical cannabis pharmacies, including Nurses Station and Gayle’s Dispensary, as well as cannabis processing and planting companies, including JKJ Processing Inc.
“I couldn’t believe it, to be honest,” said John Koumbis, owner of JKJ Processing Company. “It’s utterly ridiculous of them to shove that onto us at this kind of short notice, and the worst part is, there are several hundreds of us that are going to be impacted by this. The space we occupy was empty for 13 years before we leased it from them, and I’m not sure what they’re thinking with this, honestly.”
Koumbis asked the property manager why the company made this sudden decision and told that 7-Eleven refused to cooperate with any cannabis business. “They don’t believe in it, and they’re not renewing any leases going forward with anyone who’s in the marijuana business and leases from 7-Eleven,” he explained.
Other medical cannabis business owners have received similar answers from property managers. Starla Norwood, the owner of Nurses Station (a pharmacy that mainly serves patients 50 years and older), said that 7-Eleven considers state-legal pot businesses to be engaged in “criminal activity and money laundering.” However, “there are 300,000 Oklahomans with medical cards.”
Christian Oliver, the owner of Gaelic Pharmacy, said, “there wasn’t any kind of written notice, there wasn’t any kind of attempt at dialogue. There wasn’t any approach to investigate it. It was just like no get out… The new owner does not want to lease to the cannabis industry. It’s a company out of Texas, so I have until July 31 to vacate the premises.”
In a call with the property manager, Koumbis discovered that the company concealed its plans from these businesses. According to the manager, company executives decided to kick out the cannabis business in January but did not notify them until two weeks before the lease expired.
Combes told the Chronic website that the company’s decision was particularly shocking because his company leased the building “sat empty for over twelve years before we leased it… It took a lot of time and money just to get it up to code, and so many other mom and pop shops are in the same boat. They’ve sunk their life savings into these places, and they’re just getting pushed out now.”
“We’re trying to look for a new place but it’s difficult. It’s not an easy thing to do,” said Norwood. Many places will refuse to rent to a weed business, and “the ones that are available want really high rent. .. It is devastating. This is just heartbreaking for my entire family.”
Despite these setbacks, Oklahoma is one of the most progressive and powerful medical marijuana industries in the United States. The legalization of medical marijuana in 2018 allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana for almost all conditions. The industry has been developing rapidly since then. In April this year, the state sold medical marijuana worth $73 million, setting a historical record and exceeding the monthly sales of the adult cannabis market in some states.
This article is issued by Merry Jane.