Supervisors Consider Fees Related To Medical Marijuana

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In the first go-round on rules and regulations for medical marijuana, the Gila County Board of Supervisors expressed concern about the fees proposed by its Planning and Zoning Commission.

The proposed zoning rules call for:

• Conditional Use Permit application fees for a dispensary or designated caregiver cultivation site of $5,000

• Permit fee for a Conditional Use Permit for a qualified patient cultivation site of $1,000

Supervisors Tommie Martin and Shirley Dawson agreed the county could not put in place fees that would prohibit legal action.

There was a second go-round at a March 29 work session.

“We (P&Z) went through the ordinance at our last meeting. The fee structure is based on anticipated costs to the county,” said Don Ascoli, chairman of the county’s planning and zoning commission.

It was reported that someone in Strawberry is planning to pursue a dispensary permit and said they would charge $400 an ounce for marijuana, though they expected to sell in gram measurements.

One of the planning commissioners said it is likely the people dispensing the medical marijuana will be making a lot of money.

Several members of the commission were at the work session along with community development director Bob Gould.

They pointed out since the matter of putting a sales tax on the marijuana sold by dispensaries is still up in the air and the county has no mechanism such as business licenses to use, the only way to recoup some of the added expense created by the new law is to have the permit fees in place.

The added expenses include the work needed to assure dispensaries and patient cultivation sites meet the regulations and the extra burden that is likely to land in the lap of the county’s law enforcement and courts systems.

Martin and Dawson conceded to the planning commission’s reasoning on the fees. They also wanted some discussion with other jurisdictions within the county to see if everyone was on the same page with medical marijuana regulations.

“I want some cross-jurisdictional conversations before action is taken,” Martin said.

Dawson said the proposed ordinance is a starting point and if it’s wrong, it can be fixed.

“We need to bring everyone (to the table) to discuss a multitude of issues and medical marijuana is just one of them,” Dawson said.

Both Martin and board of supervisors chairman Mike Pastor agreed with Dawson, that the proposed ordinance is as good a place as any to start.

“It may require review in the future,” Pastor said.

The board took no action on the matter, as the meeting was a work session.

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