CannaBiz: City Council and MMC fees 


Colorado Springs City Councilor Brandy Williams has spent the past few months meeting periodically with the city clerk's office. She was seeking a better understanding of the proposed medical marijuana center fee schedule.

This prompted our own curiosity: Were other Councilors also taking action? Only Councilor Bernie Herpin responded to our e-mail, in the negative, and interim city clerk Cindy Conway declined to comment whether other Councilors had contacted her office. So we asked Williams if she felt her colleagues understood the fees.

"Can I respectfully not answer?" she said with a smile, when we sat down in July. "I'll let you infer; I'd rather not say."

Either way, Council unanimously voted on Tuesday, with Councilors Jan Martin and Merv Bennett absent, to pass a schedule similar to the one presented in late June; fees for fingerprints and duplicate licenses, among a few other costs, were removed.

Center owners have until 5 p.m. on Sept. 30 to submit their applications, complete with a check for $2,200. Only six applications had been received as of Tuesday, with Joe DiFabio's Briargate Wellness Center having come in first; an estimated 160 are yet to come. Once an application is approved, the clerk's office estimates the average center will spend an additional $3,600 on the actual license.

The change comes at an expensive time for center owners, of which Council was aware. Councilors Lisa Czelatdko and Angela Dougan asked about reviews to make sure the process was neither a monetary gain nor a loss for the city, while Council President Scott Hente requested a review of the fees in six to nine months.

Lee McRae, a license enforcement officer with the city, was fairly sure all applications will have been processed by then.

Who benefits?

As first reported by Westword, the Colorado Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of a Denver MMJ patient's employer, who contended fired employee Jason Beinor was ineligible for unemployment benefits.

"We conclude that although the medical certification permitting the possession and use of marijuana may insulate claimant from state criminal prosecution," wrote Judge David Richman for the 2-1 majority opinion, "it does not preclude him from being denied unemployment benefits based on a separation from employment for testing positive for marijuana in violation of an employer's express zero-tolerance drug policy."

Judge Richard Gabriel dissented, writing, "I believe that claimant had a constitutional right to use medical marijuana, and in my view, the denial of benefits based on his exercise of that right infringed the right."


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