Medical marijuana: Dispensary license fees in Breckenridge as much as double Denver's?

Categories: Marijuana

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Breckenridge is known as one of the most pot-friendly cities in the pot-friendly state of Colorado. But that doesn't mean opening up a medical marijuana dispensary in town is cheap.

Licensing costs there could potentially be more than double the amount charged in Denver, which critics often complain about being too high.

Earlier this week, the Summit Daily News reported that medical marijuana clinics in Breckenridge had been blindsided by a new city licensing fee schedule that could require them to fork over at least five times what they have paid in previous years.

City officials say the money will go toward covering the added costs to the city of medical marijuana licensing has been to the city. But considering that Breck fees are thousands more than those in other nearby mountain communities, do the numbers really add up?

There are currently seven dispensaries in Breckenridge, all of which have been operating under a $1,000 license they received from the city when they opened. Since that time, the City of Breckenridge has adopted a new fee schedule that is broken down by the size of the dispensary, as is the case with the state's version.

A new center in Breck with up to 300 patients would pay initial licensing fees of $5,625; a 301-500 patient clinic would pony up $9,375; and more than 500 patients would require a hefty $13,500 to operate in the city. Each additional offsite grow for any MMC is an additional $937. Annual renewal of the licenses will be half of what the initial licensing fee was for the MMC.

Compare that with Denver, where each MMC is required to pay a $2,000 application fee. Then, after a dispensary gains approval (which none have yet to do), a two-year license through the city will cost $6,000. Currently, the entire $6,000 is due up front, but a bill before city council currently would allow MMCs to pay in two $3,000 increments.

No new shops have opened in Breckenridge, but city spokeswoman Kim Dykstra-DiLallo says existing dispensaries need to re-apply for licenses, because they have now been re-titled medical marijuana centers by the state. So on top of the initial grand they paid to the city, owners are now being asked to put down thousands more to stay in business.

But things aren't set in stone yet. Since no dispensary license will come up for renewal until December, Dykstra-DiLallo says city officials could still change their mind about existing shops.

Interestingly, Breckenridge has about the same number of dispensaries as liquor stores, not counting places that sell 3.2 beer -- and the latter paid less than half in fees what the pot shops are being asked to cough up. But according to city officials, liquor stores don't take up near as much city time.

"Because medical marijuana centers are so new and so many new regulations are coming down from the state, our attorney and town staff have put way more work and research into MMCS than we have with liquor stores," Dykstra-DiLallo says.

Up the highway in Leadville, a town with a little more than half the population of Breck, one of the town's two shops had fees waived due to an old town clause exempting community health clinics in the commercial area of town. The other shop paid $500, which is comparable to liquor store licensing fees there. Leadville city officials have said there have been no problems with MMC licensing eating into other parts of the town budget.

And in Idaho Springs? The fees there are slightly higher than those in Leadville, but still thousands lower than in Breck, According to Leadville city clerk's office, a business license and tax license through the city for an MMC costs owners about $1,000 for the first time and $1,000 to keep it going each year -- more depending on if you are licensing a separate grow or infused product kitchen. By comparison, a liquor license through the city has the same $1,000 fee for a new application, but only $122.50 in annual fees.

Dykstra-DiLallo said Breckenridge policy is to constantly review fees -- and once the dust settles, MMC feels could go down. "We'll review them and adjust them for the direct and indirect costs," she says.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana dispensaries in the high country about to get Colorado's blessing."

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15 comments
Philo99
Philo99

It's not nearly high enough. If the junkies want their weed, let them pay for it.

Make the dispensary fee $25K a year and place a 50% tax on every bag of dope sold. They are used to stealing to get their drugs, are they really going to complain about a little tax?

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

Wasn't there an article written that soon, very soon, every one would get their marijuana tax stamp, sorry MMED approval, history has a funny way of repeating itself, and with their approval everyone would be happy and the state would not try to rip off cannabis users any more.  I love the hart warming stories that the Westword writes that all the bureaucracy is just different, but it's still working for you and you the little people don't understand the bureaucracy.  But at least some know when they are getting fucked.  Keep up the fair and balanced coverage.   

CedrickD1
CedrickD1

That's bad for Dispensaries as well as the economy.  The problem here is the people don't seem to know anything about economics and where the equilibrium should be as far a prices and taxes are concerned.  I guess they figure the higher the tax the more revenues they will bring in which is totally opposite of what will actually happen.   

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

I do not like these money-grubbers.  Their parking scam needs to be shut down and a very large amount of money returned to the motorists they have illegally gouged -- Breckenridge tickets people for parking overnight without posting signs giving notice of the ordinance (the better to take advantage of non-residents).

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Breckenridge is crazy with pot issues.  You can possess an ounce thanks to Sean McCallister's law, but if you smoke in public it's a misdemeanor offense now.  Breckenridge is also imposing a 5% city tax on herb purchased at dispensaries which will make sales tax around 14% - 15% on all mmj purchases.  Then when you smoke you must appear in court and pay huge fines.  No one cares about weed in Breckenridge, everyone does it, and the town sure is having a field day turning pot smokers' pockets inside out.

sojournerC
sojournerC

Presuming yourself to be a big person Corey?

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Breckenridge has tons of free parking.  The only pay lot is the F-lot, and it's cheaper than both of the resort run pay lots.  The Gondola lot is only $5 on weekdays, all season long, to park right next to the Gondola.  Not a bad deal, and only 1/4 the cost of Vail and Beaver Creek.

there are hundreds of free parking signs that say free parking from 6am - 2am.  Meaning from 2am to - 6am there is no free parking.  The reason is that it snows in Breck, a lot, and they have to plow all of those spots at night.  I've left my car 100x at night in Breckenridge and never got a parking ticket for the record.

anonymouse
anonymouse

Why do you want smoking herb in public held to a looser standard than drinking in public?

Dobby the House Elf
Dobby the House Elf

It's a good thing safety meetings usually happen in the trees, where there are fewer po-po.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The article I read was about Breckenridge gouging people.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

I think anyone should be able to smoke anything they want when ever they want.  How's that for a standard?

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