A proposed set of fees in Barstow would place a hefty price tag on the right to participate in the city’s nascent cannabis industry.
The Barstow City Council will either approve the fees on Monday, or send city staff back to the drawing board to decide how to charge cannabis businesses hoping to operate in its jurisdiction. The meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall, will include a public-comment period.
City officials argue the proposed structure will fulfill their promise that legalized commercial cannabis will bolster Barstow’s coffers. However, some say the steep levies will exclude all except big businesses with deep pockets.
The proposal: Aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs will have to pay nearly $20,000,which is not refundable, to submit an application for a cannabis business permit, according to Monday’s agenda packet.
If the city manager greenlights an application, the applicant will pay Barstow just over $14,000 each subsequent year to stay in business.
If denied, the cannabis entrepreneur can pay an extra $1,000 to appeal the decision – unless the City Council denies a piece of their application first, in which case the rejection is final and not appealable. A list of ancillary fees could boost those costs in various ways.
The city paid a private consultant to help form the proposal. The consulting firm estimates that this structure will bring the city a bit more than $250,000 in revenue, according to the agenda, though it is unclear how long a time-period that estimate represents.
The proposed $18,645 application charge is 646% higher than the rate of $2,500 that the City Council approved as a default fee on June 7, when it first lifted Barstow’s ban on commercial cannabis.
Published: November 15, 2021
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