Updated: June 28, 2011 at 12:00 am
The Colorado Springs City Council decided Tuesday to charge medical marijuana businesses a $2,200 application fee but to re-evaluate proposed licensing fees that industry advocates complained were too high.
The decision allows the City Clerk’s Office to start processing applications as state regulators on Friday begin to enforce a slew of new regulations.
It also gives the city more time to validate the direct and indirect costs to review, process, issue and enforce medical marijuana business licenses.
“I think the message we want to send to not only the folks in the industry but across the city is that this is a council that’s very fair-minded,” said Councilman Tim Leigh, who proposed moving forward with the application fee while re-evaluating the others.
“We want to charge you what we have to charge you” to recover the city’s costs, he said. “Your industry is highly regulated, and there’s costs associated with that. I don’t want to run those down your throat without really feeling comfortable that they are the right costs.”
The $2,200 application fee takes effect Friday. It is a one-time fee per applicant.
In addition to the application fee, the clerk’s office proposed annual $1,800 licensing fees for medical marijuana centers, grow operations and manufacturers of infused products.
Cliff Black, an attorney who represents several dispensary owners, told the council that business owners feel like they’ve been “dragged through the coals financially.”
“I don’t see how they’re going to stay in business as it is,” he said.
But Councilman Bernie Herpin reminded Black that the city has only charged medical marijuana businesses a $500 pre-application fee since last year.
“It’s not like we’re raking you over the coals,” Herpin said. “We’ve only charged you $500 so far.”
Before proposing holding off on the licensing fees, Leigh said “somebody has to address the elephant in the middle of the living room.”
“What you guys do is a federal crime,” he said. “I think we’re trying to work with that, and there’s costs, so we’re trying to be fair-minded about this.”