Marijuana dispensary business licenses in Carson City will require $25,000 the first year based on direction the Board of Supervisors gave staff Thursday.
Voting 4-1 on a motion proposed by Supervisor Brad Bonkowski, the board directed staff to draft an ordinance on oversight and licensing for adoption in coming weeks. It also will call for a $20,000 license to open a cultivation facility, $15,000 for an edible production business and $5,000 for a testing lab. The dissenting vote came from Supervisor Jim Shirk, who had proposed higher licensing costs.
“How about that,” Mayor Robert Crowell said after the tally came in the wake of lengthy discussion. “Solomon Bonkowski.”
The Solomon reference came because both Shirk and the mayor had proposed higher amounts, Supervisor John McKenna had kicked off the discussion at a lower level.
Supervisor Karen Abowd wanted something that would encourage vertical integration to have companies open dispensaries and other facilities and suggested something that in combination would raise $100,000 for the city from the four possible facilities.
All those board concepts, however, were lower than amounts suggested by Community Development Director Lee Plemel who was working from input provided by a staffing committee. Those starting place possibilities came up during discussion on the business impact, which the board determined high fees would have on medical marijuana establishments.
Those prospective amounts were from $75,000 to $125,000 on dispensaries or grow facilities, $100,000 on edible production places.
McKenna’s proposal was to cut those to 10 percent of the staff ideas, which Bonkowski said he favored, but in the end middle ground had to be found.
Representatives of the firms planning to open establishments sought lower business license fees than staff started with, saying startup costs will be high and profits hard to come by in the early years.
“Have you lost sight of the fact that there’s sales tax,” asked William Myer, CEO and president of Nevada Organix, LLC, who had testified he has a dispensary in Arizona. He said his business license there was $50 and the state dinged dispensaries $5,000.
He wants to open one in Carson City, he said, “but I can’t go broke in the first six months.”
Mark Turner of Carson City, also in a medical marijuana establishment firm, said California medical marijuana operators do up to $8,000 business daily but a $5 million annual take would require $14,000 daily, so he didn’t think basing fees on such a business projection made sense.
Local Realtor Garrett Lepire provided the alternate view, though he said he had no dog in the hunt. He said the board should start high and then move lower if the businesses don’t gross enough to warrant such licensing costs.