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medicinal marijuana fees
The Vista City Council approved new fees for filing and processing applications for renewals, transfers, relocation, relocation and modification, and appeals during its Nov. 10 meeting. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Vista approves additional marijuana fee structure

VISTA — The city is tackling medicinal marijuana fees again as it ramps up its processes to both regulate and foster growth within the industry.

During its Nov. 10 meeting, the Vista City Council approved several new fees for filing and processing applications for renewals, transfers, relocation, relocation and modification, and appeals, according to Aly Zimmerman, assistant city manager.

Zimmerman said the new fee structure is as follows: $329 for renewals of medical or enterprise; $662 for a transfer; $269 for change in management; $2,330 for both the relocation and relocation and modifications of a facility; and $500 for an appeal.

“It seems like we’re always coming back with fees, but part of that is because it’s a brand-new industry for the city,” she said. “We do need to recover the cost to implement new requests.”

Measure Z was approved in 2018 and allows up to 11 medicinal dispensaries in the city. In 2019, the City Council approved marijuana enterprise businesses such as testing, manufacturing and distribution as well as delivery services for the dispensaries.

One resident said she worried about the businesses being able to hide owners through their business formation structure. However, Zimmerman said the city, and state, fully vets each application, which is why the city approved the new fees.

She said the California Bureau of Cannabis Control, along with city staff doing its own independent research, investigates those business structures. Zimmerman said the city will not issue a license unless a business already has a state license.

“There’s been a lot of dedication to cannabis and implementation of Measure Z,” said Councilwoman Corinna Contreras. “It’s been very smooth and at a point where we’ve done a good job of implementing and recovering the cost with staff.”

Since Measure Z has passed, the city has also approved other fees related to the industry, such as a Measure Z application ($9,368), an enterprise license ($4,318), delivery ($978) and retail expansion ($390).

According to the staff report, city fee rates are established by multiplying the estimated time spent by the average hourly rate for the position or positions conducting the review. In some cases, the hourly rate for multiple positions within a department or division are averaged to create the “average hourly rate.”

“They are paying taxes and abiding by the law,” said Councilman Joe Green. “These fees before us … are extremely reasonable.”