The legalization of marijuana is likely to be one of the most important -- and lucrative -- growth stories of the coming decade. Legalization has ignited a boom in cannabis production in Canada, the U.S., and other areas of the world. It's also boosting demand for real estate upon which the potent plant can be grown.

Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE:IIPR) was formed as a real estate investment trust (REIT) to purchase these facilities, lease them to licensed growers, and pay out the profits to its shareholders via dividends. It's a powerful wealth-building formula -- one that's delivered returns of more than 300% to IIP's investors since the company's December 2017 initial public offering.

IIP has steadily expanded its real estate portfolio since that time. It now owns more than 40 properties in 13 states spanning 2.9 million square feet of industrial space.

A rising stock chart superimposed over cannabis plants.

Serving as the cannabis industry's real estate partner has been a boon for Innovative Industrial Properties -- and its shareholders. Image source: Getty Images.

IIP's latest deal is with Green Thumb Industries (OTC:GTBIF). The REIT announced on Nov. 12 that it acquired a cannabis-growing facility in Danville, Pennsylvania, from Green Thumb for $20.3 million plus transaction costs. IIP then immediately leased the property back to Green Thumb, which will continue to operate it. IIP also agreed to reimburse Green Thumb for up to $19.3 million in upgrades designed to boost the production capacity of the facility.

"IIP provides a flexible real estate capital solution that effectively addresses our expansion needs at the cultivation and processing facility in Danville," Green Thumb Founder and CEO Ben Kovler said in a press release. "This transaction allows us to efficiently raise capital. We plan to use the proceeds for strategic initiatives and capacity expansion projects in Pennsylvania, a high-growth medical cannabis market."

Green Thumb Industries is a cannabis consumer packaged goods company and retailer. It has nearly 100 licenses for cannabis retail stores in 12 U.S. markets.

"GTI has distinguished itself as one of the preeminent cannabis operators in the United States, and we are thrilled to be a trusted real estate partner for their continued expansion in Pennsylvania to meet the tremendous patient demand there," IIP CEO Paul Smithers said. "With GTI's breadth and depth of cannabis product offerings and dedication to patient experience and right to well-being, we believe GTI will continue to make a tremendous and growing impact on thousands of patient lives."

There are more than 180,000 registered patients in Pennsylvania's medical cannabis program. By serving as a source of capital and real estate partner for Green Thumb Industries and other cannabis companies, Innovative Industrial Properties is positioning itself to profit from rising demand for medical marijuana in the state.

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