Oak Creek increases fees for medical marijuana businesses

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— Medical marijuana centers and grow operations in Oak Creek soon will have a larger financial burden to stay in business in the town.

At its Thursday meeting, the Oak Creek Town Board passed Ordinance 612, draft legislation that would amend Ordinance 603, which outlines licensing procedures for medical marijuana centers and grow operations.

The new ordinance significantly increases fees associated with operating a medical marijuana center, including a $2,500 initial application fee, up from $750, and a $1,500 initial inspection fee, up from $150.

For existing dispensaries and grow operations, the annual licensing fee will be $1,000, and the annual inspection also will cost $1,000. Both of those costs increased from $75.

If a business is found out of compliance in a random or complaint-based inspection, an additional $1,000 inspection fee will be assessed for each instance.

“We see that it’s a definitely positive thing for the town,” Oak Creek Mayor Nikki Knoebel said. “We are using so many resources and administrative hours just to research everything that goes with the industry that we need to cover those costs.

“This is just such new territory.”

One of Oak Creek’s medical marijuana business owners said he didn’t mind the increase.

“I think it’s good,” said Jacob Wise, owner of Mary’s Medical. “The city needs to make some money.”

He said it wouldn’t be difficult for him to pay those fees.

But he might not even have the chance to write that check next year. The future of dispensaries in Oak Creek is up for public vote in November, after a citizen-led petition put a marijuana ban ordinance on the ballot.

The ordinance increasing the fees will take effect 30 days after its publication in the legal notices section of the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

In other action at Thursday’s meeting, the Oak Creek Town Board:

■ Approved, 4-0, accounts payable for June 2011.

■ Approved, 4-0, an agreement for Additional Services No. 3 from Nolte Engineering for a $10,000 update to the water tank project. The town is eligible for reimbursement for that amount from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment grant secured for the project.

■ Approved, 4-0, a resolution prohibiting the use of excessive force against citizens engaged in nonviolent civil rights demonstrations. The resolution is a requirement for accepting a Community Development Block Grant from the state, which the town received for the water tank project.

■ Approved, 4-0, a change order for the water tank project that will mean an $18,000 deduction in the cost of the project.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

mark bond 3 years, 4 months ago

“I think it’s good,” said Jacob Wise, owner of Mary’s Medical. “The city needs to make some money.” Yeah, Jacob, making money "hand over fist" selling mind altering drugs to anyone who wants it. When was the last time you heard of a legitimate businessman saying more taxes is good? Hint, not!

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spidermite 3 years, 4 months ago

How many grow operations are there in Oak Creek?

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spidermite 3 years, 4 months ago

I need to change my comment: How many grow operations will be affected by this new ordinance?

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 4 months ago

I am not a lawyer and this doesn't directly me, but I think this could be challenged in court.

The initial fee of $2500 to cover the administrative costs presumably should show that the administrative costs are close to that. When the Town has a liquor license fee with all the regulations affecting liquor that is less than 10% the cost of MMJ then the amount of this fee is easy enough to view as a tax to make up for declining revenues in the general fund. The same argument of just a tax to help the general fund would apply to the inspection fee

The reinspection fee looks to me to be an attempt to pass a punitive fine without involving the judicial system. The $1,000 reinspection "fee" is bigger than the consequences of violating most municipal code. And presumably the cost of the initial inspection is based upon the costs of research needed to do an inspection. Well, that doesn't change for the reinspection and so the actual costs of reinspection would be far less than $1,000.

These fees represent general fund revenues more than 5% of what the Town collects from sales taxes. It thus represents a significant boost in general fund revenues.

Most important, this sort of government profiteering on MMJ by charging substantial fees or taxes that do not apply to other government regulated businesses (such as liquor licenses) is exactly the sort of local government revenues reliance upon MMJ businesses that the US Justice warns about in the memo warning Oakland California about MMJ still being illegal and that feds could seize funds from local governments.

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