US (CA): Barstow cannabis entrepreneurs could face thousands of fees

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 proposal is as follows: aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs will have to pay nearly $20,000, which is not refundable, to submit an application for a cannabis business permit. 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.

Applicants also would face a smaller set of fees, such as a $144 charge for the city to conduct a criminal background investigation. The city will prohibit any person who has been convicted of a felony within five years from being approved for a cannabis-business permit. A $550 fee also would be charged for each inspection the city conducts of a business. On top of the proposed cannabis fees, business owners “will be expected to pay standard zoning, building permit, inspection, and other land-use fees normally associated with commercial construction in Barstow,” the agenda states.

The purpose of this application fee, according to the proposal that interim Finance Director Marc Puckett will present Monday, is based on an estimate of “staff time, consultant fees, and other expenses necessary to design and implement the cannabis application process.”

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