CO seeks higher marijuana licensing fees to bridge enforcement shortfall

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The executive director of Colorado’s Department of Revenue wants marijuana businesses in the state to pay higher licensing fees to fund enforcement initiatives.

Mark Ferrandino told marijuana business owners and other industry stakeholders at a June 5 meeting the fee increases were needed to support the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED), which is running at a deficit, Denver alt-weekly Westword reported.

The request comes amid a challenging business climate for Colorado’s marijuana industry, which has seen:

The MED has had an annual budget of $11 million-$15 million the past few years that’s been funded through fines and licensing fees, according to Westword.

The agency is proposing a roughly 8% fee increase, which would bump retail license fees from $4,940 to $5,930 and yearly renewal fees from $2,130 to $2,300, according to the news outlet.

Fees for cultivators would be based on the size of the grow facility, plant count or ownership, with multistate operators paying more than smaller companies.

Social equity licensees would see their initial license fee and first renewal reduced by nearly 75%, Westword reported.

Meanwhile, a new state law could help Colorado marijuana retailers improve business.

House Bill 1279, signed last week by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, allows licensed marijuana stores to collect online payments.

Before the measure became law, retailers were allowed to take preorders online, but customers had to pay in-person, typically with cash.