Marijuana retailers want to do away with the impact fees they pay to cities and towns in order to set up shop, arguing that the industry has had minimal impact on police, fire and other municipal services.
A proposal filed by Rep. Andy Vargas, D-Haverhill, would require local governments to conduct annual audits of the costs to their communities from hosting pot businesses and refund dispensaries, if necessary. If a community fails to do an audit, dispensaries could sue to recoup the money.
Backers of the changes say some communities are going beyond the 2016 referendum legalizing marijuana by charging excessive fees to set up shop.
“These fees were designed to offset the cost to communities, which has been negligible,” said David Torrisi, president of the Commonwealth Dispensary Association, which represents marijuana retailers. Some communities are using impact fees for non-cannabis related expenses, he said.
The 2016 law allows adults age 21 and older to possess up to 10 ounces of weed, and it authorizes regulated cultivation and sales. The law also allows communities the option of charging pot shops excise taxes up to 3% as part of “host agreements.” That’s on top of the 10.75%