Tiered fees were introduced to replace the previous flat rate of $2,500.
The Oklahoma state Supreme Court passed on a chance to rule on the legality of a 2022 bill approved by the state legislature that dramatically raises many medical marijuana business permit fees.
The high court instead sent the case back down to a lower district court, The Oklahoman reported this week.
The lawsuit that challenged the bill was filed in June after House Bill 2179 – the measure that raised fees – went into effect, and the state Supreme Court heard arguments on the case in early August.
The bill increased the license fee to up to $10,000 for dispensaries, based on annual sales; $20,000 for processors; and established tiered fees for cultivators, with the largest being subject to annual $50,000 license fees, The Oklahoman reported. Previously licenses required a flat fee of $2,500.
Industry opponents argued that the bill was tantamount to an illegal tax hike, but the state argued the fees were a necessary source of revenue to pay for industry oversight.
“It is likely that the vast majority of marijuana businesses will not see an increase in fees — and especially not an increase that large,” the state’s attorney in the case argued, The Oklahoman reported. “The only growers, processors, and dispensaries that will see increases are those that produce a disproportionately large amount of marijuana. Those businesses place greater strains on (regulators).”
The fee increase is expected to cost the Oklahoma cannabis industry $75 million-$125 million, Jed Green, part of the trade group Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action, previously estimated to Green Market Report.
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