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Vista City Council approved three licensing fees for medical marijiuana enterprises, deliveries and work permits during a meeting on Jan. 28. File photo
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Medicinal marijuana fees locked in by Vista council

VISTA — The City Council approved three licensing fees for medical marijuana enterprise, delivery and work permits during its Jan. 28 meeting.

The cannabis enterprise license application filing fee applies to any application for a cannabis testing, manufacturing or distribution facility and costs $4,318. Delivery service application fee is $978, a one-time payment, Aly Zimmerman, assistant city manager, said. Employee work permits are $15.

“This would be for retailers wanting to expand their allowance to include delivery,” she said. “And any other authorized delivery retailer outside the city that is coming into the city to deliver.”

Due to the city’s adoption of new regulations permitting certain forms of cannabis testing, manufacturing, distribution and delivery, application filing and review fees must be established. In addition, the city’s Live Scan (fingerprinting) authorization must be updated to include recently approved business types and their employees.

Rates were established by multiplying the estimated time to be spent by the average hourly rate for the position or positions that will be conducting the review, according to the staff report.

The council also discussed the potential for license renewals.

Zimmerman said the fees approved by the council will be initial setup costs, but staff will return with additional recommendations for renewals. The business license, meanwhile, will be based on gross receipts, she added.

“I just want a little accountability,” Councilman Joe Green said.

Terry Polly, a registered nurse, who works at Dr. Green Rx dispensary, said her work centers on cannabis safety, noting it’s not for everyone. Still, she said, patients should be allowed to make the decision for themselves.

She said seniors are afraid of entering a dispensary, so it is important to create a patient-friendly atmosphere and method for them to receive their medicine.

John Byrom of the North Coastal Prevention Coalition said the safety for the city’s youth is a top priority for the group. He said the medicinal marijuana businesses lack monitoring, and encouraged a program like tobacco retail licenses, which regulate sales to minors.

“When I was young, I knew what stores would sell me tobacco and what stores would sell me alcohol,” he said. “We don’t want that for marijuana. I believe this fee could be used to ensure marijuana shops and, especially the delivery services, do not sell to Vista youth.”

Resident Becky Rapp echoed the comments of Byrom and others, saying the negative impacts of marijuana on youth must be a priority. She recited a survey from the Monitoring the Future Survey, which measures teen use.

While alcohol, tobacco and prescription drug use are on the decline, vaping and marijuana use are increasing, she said. Marijuana vaping increased to 14% from 7% for 12th-graders, while 64% of California high school students said marijuana was the first substance they tried, Rapp said regarding a state-sponsored study.

Rapp also advocated for funds from the marijuana fees to be used for educational advocacy against marijuana use.