Belle Fourche adopts medicinal marijuana license fees | Local News


BELLE FOURCHE –– Belle Fourche City Council has approved the introduction of a license fee to operate medical marijuana facilities within city limits, bringing the city closer to resolving the details of an ordinance on the subject.

At its September 20 meeting, city council voted unanimously to approve the permit fees. Companies wishing to apply for licenses related to the operation of a medical marijuana establishment in Belle Fourche will now have to pay an initial license fee of $ 30,000, as well as an annual fee of $ 5,000 and an administrative fee of $ 150.

The expense amounts and resulting recommendation were developed at a September 13 meeting of the city’s legal finance committee. During that meeting, Assistant Financial Officer Jason LaFayette, who primarily manages the city’s licensing process, told committee members that he spoke to the South Dakota Municipal League about the subject, compiling information and researching the new process.

“… Just to get an idea of ​​what other communities are doing,” he said at the committee meeting. “And this is a topic, obviously, that everyone is talking about.”

According to his research, LaFayette said the state imposed an annual license renewal fee of $ 5,000 for the license required to operate in South Dakota.

“The city can choose to match that… where the city can pocket $ 5,000, the state pockets its $ 5,000, and it will be a $ 10,000 renewal (for licenses),” he said. . “A lot of cities are going (with) $ 5,000 (fees).

Based on the number of commercial licenses related to the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana authorized by the state and city, LaFayette said that when the licenses become available, potential applicants will pay their application fees and submit their candidacy to the State for consideration. , being placed in a pool of candidates.

“The state would review: ‘Belle Fourche (authorizes the purchase of) one (license and) there are five applicants,” he said, adding that the state should score applicants using a system of points. “Then the top scorer in the eyes of the state, based on his criteria, will be awarded the license for the city.”

However, he said he did not know how the state determines the scores of candidates.

And before moving forward with drafting a proposed ordinance for the operation of medical marijuana facilities in the city, the fee structure needed to be ironed out.

“This is where we are; we just have to figure out what we want to charge (for the fees) as a city, ”said LaFayette.

To make the process easier for committee members to understand, LaFayette drew parallels with the licensing process for alcoholic and malt beverages.

At Belle Fourche, the malt beverage license renewal fee is $ 300 per year, of which $ 150 goes to the state, $ 150 to the city, and the city also charges an administrative fee of $ 150 due of the amount of paperwork associated with the process, LaFayette mentioned.

Liquor permits cost the applicant $ 1,500 per year, which goes only to the city, and an administrative fee of $ 150.

“Basically… the only hand that we (the city) play in there is that the state sends us the applications… then I get them, and I send them to the companies, the companies bring them back, we approve them. through the council… we stamp it and send it back to the state, and then they look at everything and issue those licenses, ”he said, explaining that the city is acting as a go-between. “And then I guess the cannabis (licensing process) is going to be pretty representative of how they’re already dealing with these other licenses.”

City Councilor Annie Reich said she believes the initial application fee should cost more than the annual renewal fee to prove the applicant has more skin in the game.

“Because we need this investment,” she said, suggesting that the city charge $ 20,000 for the initial application fee and $ 5,000 per year for the renewal.

Councilor Heidi Parker countered Reich’s proposal, accepting the annual fee but increasing the initial fee to $ 30,000.

Mayor Randy Schmidt agreed with Parker’s higher initial rate.

“I think it brings to the table people who really want to participate and who are going to try to make some money,” he said, adding that he also wanted the fees to be kept reasonable to allow homeowners. of local businesses to do well. licensing.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend that the initial fee of $ 30,000, annual renewal fee of $ 5,000 and $ 150 be established. Then, the city council unanimously voted to approve the tariff structure on September 20.

The subject of medicinal marijuana is expected to remain in the council’s role, as work is expected to be underway soon to prepare ordinances setting out the rules and requirements by which it will govern dispensaries and grow operations within the city limits.

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