City delays MMJ licensure ordinance two weeks

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Today, Colorado Springs City Council unanimously voted to delay consideration of a planned licensing scheme for the city's medical marijuana businesses until its March 22 meeting. Local attorney Charles Houghton raised concerns that the duties of the city's planned hearing officer could overlap with those of an officer from the state's Department of Revenue. Also City Councilor and mayoral candidate Tom Gallagher voiced worries that MMJ center employees weren't afforded enough legal protections in the ordinance's current wording.

"It's a good idea that we require the state license, and inject that in the employee thing, ’cause I'd hate to create a situation where all the people at the top are covered and the guy at the bottom's not," said Gallagher, stating he'd like wording in the ordinance that affirms center employees carry licenses from the state, which they're currently required to do.

Attorney Clifton Black questioned the planned fees for application and licensure, which are scheduled to roughly be $1,800 for a center's application fee, $3,000 for its actual license and $3,000 annually thereafter. This, in addition to fees required for associates' licenses — employees of the center. Those include a $150 application fee, a $500 license fee and $500 annually thereafter.

"If we look back in history at the Gold Rush days, everybody was making money but the miners. And we see the same thing going on in the medical marijuana industry," Black said. "There are security requirements, there are labeling requirements and these business have been raked over the coals and basically everybody's making money except the business owners.

"So many of these businesses are just barely hanging on, and having a hard time paying rent. The city of Colorado Springs is already making $50,000 to $60,000 just in sales tax revenue. And I just feel that these additional fees need to be justified and I don't know that they're necessary at this point or if it's just another mechanism for somebody else here at the government to make money."

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