Assuming that happens, licensing for unincorporated Eagle County goes into effect July 1. Existing businesses will have to come into compliance and file for a first-time application by the end of August.
A first-time application for a two-year marijuana business license will cost $2,000. Renewal applications will cost $1,500. Those fees cover the median wage of county man hours spent reviewing each application and are in addition to state licensing fees.
“There is not much new stuff in these regulations but it will allow people to apply for new marijuana businesses,” said Eagle County Attorney Bryan Treu. “The main difference with these regulations from previous ones is odor control. That was the main complaint about those businesses in the past.”
Under the new regs, applications for marijuana businesses opening in unincorporated areas of the county will have to include “detailed reports on the effective mitigation of any odors of the proposed operation.”
Zoning 200 feet from schools and such remains the same after the county’s decision last year to differ from state regulations that stipulated 1,000 feet.
“At first (Eagle County) deferred to state licensing regulations,” Treu said. “Then the state changed its stipulation to 1,000 feet and the marijuana businesses in unincorporated Eagle County wouldn’t have been able to remain open. However, the state said we could impose different regulations if we did local licensing, so that’s what we have to do.”
There are currently about five marijuana businesses in unincorporated Eagle County, Treu said. Until now, new marijuana businesses couldn’t open while the county figured out its regulations.
“Other people have been waiting to apply for licenses, so they are happy to see these regulations, which will allow them to do that,” Treu said.
Of course, the county’s rules could be subject to change and the license application highlights the risk of opening a marijuana business while the federal government still considers the drug illegal and places full responsibility on the applicant.
“I think you’re going to see the business regulations go back and forth for a while,” Treu said.
Besides the risk, it appears difficult to make a profit in the business. Not only is there extensive licensing fees, there is the fact that the Internal Revenue Service denies tax deductions to marijuana businesses.
Costs of state licensing fees vary depending on the size and type of the operation, and sometimes more than one state license is required. For example, a license for a “Type 1 Center” costs $3,750 (Type 1 serves up to 300 patients, Type 2 serves 300 to 500 and Type 3 serves more than 500). If the business chooses to cultivate marijuana on the premises, it must apply for a $2,750 license as well, and/or a $2,750 license if the business manufactures infused products. Type 2 and 3 Centers are charged $8,750 and $14,000, respectively.
In the example of a Type 1 business applying for on-site cultivation and infused product manufacturing, it would pay a total of $9,250 in state licensing fees in addition to local licensing fees.
“It seems like a tough way to make money,” Treu said.