Want To Open A Marijuana Store? Portland Could Charge $3,750 To Start

By Andrew Theen The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.

The Portland City Council will debate extensive regulations for the marijuana industry next Wednesday, and city documents show startup costs for would-be entrepreneurs could be steep.

The city is proposing nonrefundable application fees for all marijuana businesses -- dispensaries, producers and processors, retail stores and wholesale locations. Those fees begin at $500 and soar to $750 for retail businesses.

Fees may also "be updated annually" or as needed, according to city documents.

The proposed regulations come as some Portland dispensaries prepare to start selling recreational pot Oct. 1, a service lawmakers approved as a bridge for customers until the Oregon Liquor Control Commission rolls out recreational licenses in late 2016.

City officials pushed back a discussion of a proposed local sales tax on pot until 2016.

Amalia Alacorn de Morris, director of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, may reject any application if she "determined that the business has contributed to crime or livability incidents in the area."

After that, annual license and renewal costs would run from $1,750 to $3,000 for retail establishments. If denied, applicants could appeal the decision, but that would cost $1,750.

For a comparison, liquor licenses cost $100, with an annual renewal fee of $35.

The city is also proposing 1,000-foot buffers between marijuana locations, both retail and medical. Portland currently has 132 dispensaries.

City officials say the fees are needed to recoup costs to administer the marijuana program in the city.

Oregon is trying to learn from mistakes made by Washington and Colorado when rolling out their recreational industries. Those states "significantly underestimated the cost of responding" to the growing industry, city documents say. Denver saw 941 license applications for retail shops its first year, while Washington received 7,000 applications for 334 locations set aside for retail stores.

Portland is estimating $169,000 in start-up fees, plus $889,462 in ongoing costs to run the regulatory program. The Office of Neighborhood Involvement, which runs the marijuana program, will ask for money to pay for five new positions later this fall.

The office will ask to add the positions later this fall.

The proposed regulations also require establishments to have on-site security measures and an "air filtration system" to regulate odors.

Stores and dispensaries would have limited hours, from 7 a.m. to no later than 9 p.m.

The City Council will discuss the proposals Wednesday at 2 p.m.

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