STURGIS — It will cost you $125,000 for a medical marijuana dispensary license in Meade County.
The Meade County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to amend its medical cannabis ordinance and increase the license fee from $50,000 to $125,000.
According to the amended ordinance, the county would issue just one dispensary license, and no licenses for a cultivation facility, a cannabis testing facility or a cannabis product manufacturing facility.
There would be a $150 application fee. In the original ordinance, the cost of a license was set at $50,000 for a dispensary, and $25,000 for cultivation facility, testing facility or product manufacturing facility.
“The only issue I have is that we’re a little low on the dispensary,” Commissioner Talbot Wieczorek said.
Meade County Deputy State’s Attorney Ken Chleborad said Lincoln County recently passed a medical marijuana ordinance and set the license fee for a dispensary at $175,000 payable over two years.
When asked by Meade County Commission Chairman Ted Seaman what figure he would like to see Meade County charge for the license Weiczorek said: “I think that Lincoln County one looks good.”
Lincoln County Ordinance #2107-59 was passed on Aug. 6, and set the application fee at $50,000 which may be paid in two payments, with half of the fee of the time the application and the remainder in the end of the first year.
Chleborad said later he may have been looking at an earlier version of the ordinance that listed the $175,000 fee.
Commissioner Rich Liggett said he would like Meade County’s fee to at least cover the cost of a full-time employee for the county.
“I’m afraid that we are going to lose an employee to be able to take care of all this stuff,” he said.
Commissioner Rod Bradley said he believes there will be even more cost than just one person tracking all the paperwork.
Emmett Reistroffer, a local advocate and consultant for the cannabis industry, said he has been working to engage state and local policy makers and answer any questions they might have about the medical marijuana industry.
“Fees is a big part of this discussion,” he said.
Reistroffer said that what he has found is that local governments are trying to tie the fee to the actual cost of administering the license just to be 100% legally safe. But some in the medical cannabis industry may find that to be unfair and fodder for a lawsuit, he said.
Reistroffer also encouraged Meade County officials to generate a map to pinpoint where the medical cannabis businesses could locate so those interested in starting a business would know where properties are eligible and where they are not eligible.
He urged the county commission to consider zoning restrictions to see how many eligible properties truly exist.
Meade County Commissioner Doreen Creed told Reistroffer that Meade County has no zoning.
Reistroffer said he understands why the county might want to start out slow with medical cannabis businesses.
“We want to prove to you that we are responsible business operators and we are good neighbors. We do create good paying jobs,” he said.
He told commissioners he didn’t think there would be a flood of dispensaries in the Meade County market.
“Obviously Sturgis has everyone’s attention because of the tourism. I do think if Sturgis limits it then the county has an opportunity here to take some of that traffic… One way or another, people will go and get the product,” he said.
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