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At its June 12 work session, City Council heard a proposal from the Medical Marijuana Working Group that would raise annual licensing fees on medical marijuana businesses. The current fee schedule hasn't been adjusted since 2011 and is now under review at the request of city departments strained by the demands of an industry that's grown considerably since then.
Recall from past reporting in CannaBiz ("Local licensing fees for MMJ businesses could about double soon," April 12) that in 2016, medical marijuana licensing-fee revenue rose about $665,000. The city spent about $17,000 more than that on regulation, licensure and enforcement related to the industry. That represents 97.5 percent cost recovery — which is good but not perfect.
To get cost-neutral, the working group has proposed a pretty hefty hike. The ordinance considered June 12 would raise the licensing fee that dispensary owners, growers and edibles manufacturers need to pay from $1,800 to $2,600. It would also add a new license type, for testing facilities, at the same price.
Since there are currently 356 licensed medical marijuana facilities, the fee hike would raise at least $925,600. That's why the second piece of the proposal is an appropriation. Also on June 12, Council heard an ordinance to make a $100,000 expenditure from the general fund to bolster the city's licensing and enforcement efforts: $23,000 for the clerk's office; $42,000 to the police department; and $35,000 to the mayor's office. All three appropriations would be budgeted for salaries and associated operating costs, including the hire of a new license enforcement specialist. The ordinance will get its first reading on June 27.