Watertown City Council discuss lowering the fee for medical marijuana dispensaries

WATERTOWN, S.D.(KXLG)- The cost of applying for and renewing a medical marijuana dispensary license is much higher in Watertown than in most other South Dakota towns.

When medical marijuana was legalized in the state, the Watertown City Council set the fee at $25,000 for applying for a license and an additional $25,000 for renewal. Only Sioux Falls charges dispensaries that much, with most towns much lower.

At a work session Monday night, the City Council discussed whether or not to change those to be more in line with other communities.

City Attorney Lisa Carrico said state law allows cities to set their fees.

Council members generally believe the application fee should be left alone but expressed a willingness to change the renewal fee. Council member Bruce Buhler suggested that the high renewal fee may harm dispensary owners.

The City Council will revisit the issue at a later date. Two of Watertown’s three dispensaries have already renewed their licenses for another year, so any change in the fee structure would take effect in 2024.

Sioux Falls also has a $25,000 application fee, but Rapid City charges just $1,500, Yankton $5,000, and Brookings, Mitchell, Yankton, Huron, Pierre, and Spearfish all charge $5,000.  Aberdeen has a $15,000 application fee with renewal fees at $5,000 per year.