A Montana decide has ordered state hashish regulators to delay the enforcement of steep new charges for marijuana dispensary enterprise licenses whereas a swimsuit difficult the brand new charge construction is heard by the courts. The 60-day preliminary injunction was ordered by Lewis and Clark County District Court docket Decide Mike Menahan, with the transfer agreed to by attorneys for the state and three hashish companies that filed the authorized motion in August.
The plaintiffs within the case are difficult new charges established by the Montana Division of Income’s Hashish Management Division underneath a regulation handed by the state legislature earlier this yr. Beneath the brand new charge schedule, enterprise house owners are required to pay a charge of $5,000 for the primary dispensary, with the charge rising by $5,000 for every further dispensary license.
“This implies a license’s preliminary dispensary charge is $5,000, its second dispensary renewal charge is $10,000, its third is $15,000, and so forth,” Angela LeDuc, an lawyer for the plaintiffs, wrote in court docket paperwork filed final month, as reported by the Impartial Document.
The house owners of the companies that introduced the swimsuit—Granite Peak Holdings, Inc. doing enterprise as Elevated; TSB Montana LLC, and MariMint LLC—say that if the brand new licensing charges had been to enter impact, they might be compelled to shut a number of dispensary places. Such a transfer would lead to layoffs for the workers who work on the shuttered weed dispensaries and an absence of entry to medical marijuana for sufferers, the plaintiffs argued. Elevated famous in court docket paperwork the license charges for 10 of its dispensaries would enhance by 680%, from $50,000 to $280,000.
“Enforcement would require Plaintiffs to stop a lot of their enterprise operations by the state; it jeopardizes their licensure with the state and would consequence within the lack of their curiosity in these licenses; it could trigger the lack of a whole bunch of jobs and expose Plaintiffs to legal responsibility based mostly on their incapability to proceed to honor their leasehold curiosity in these dispensaries and it could jeopardize the medical marijuana patrons that they serve,” attorneys for the plaintiffs wrote of their amended criticism, according to a report from the Every day Montanan.
State Attorneys Defend New Charges
Attorneys for the Montana Division of Justice and the legal professionals for the plaintiffs have spent months arguing if the brand new charge construction is authorized. Beneath state regulation, the Montana Division of Income is prohibited from gathering charges past the prices of regulating the hashish business. Attorneys for the plaintiffs say that the brand new charges are excess of the income division’s prices to control the marijuana program.
Attorneys for the state countered that as a result of Montana is the fourth-largest state within the union by land mass, regulators want extra funding to adequately regulate the state’s marijuana business.
“All of this takes time and sources for which the taxpayers of Montana shouldn’t be on the hook,” the state argued in a quick opposing a preliminary injunction.
The state’s attorneys additionally argued that the plaintiffs’ claims of damage by the brand new charges shouldn’t be upheld by the court docket as a result of the enterprise house owners can keep away from the costs by merely working just one dispensary. The argument additionally prompt that the authorized motion was filed purely over cash.
“There exists one cause and one cause solely that Plaintiffs search to open totally different marijuana business places underneath the identical license – they need to generate profits,” the state argued in an October 24 court docket submitting. “Logic dictates that if a charge of $5,000.00 for a brand new location goes to make or break that location, then it’s not a worthwhile location and shouldn’t be opened within the first place. Plaintiffs simply need to make more cash on the expense of the taxpayers.”
The plaintiffs are additionally difficult the brand new charges on procedural grounds, arguing that they had been added to the invoice with out a chance for public remark after the laws had been accredited in committee. Different authorized points within the case revolve round separate laws that modifications the circumstances for preliminary injunctions just like the one issued by Menahan.
Final week, attorneys for each side agreed to a 60-day preliminary injunction to pause enforcement of the charges whereas the lawsuit is litigated. Beneath the settlement, the brand new license charges will probably be placed on maintain for all licensees, not simply the dispensaries owned by the plaintiffs.
Menahan’s order permits him to increase the injunction past its present 60 days if each side comply with an extension. The order additionally reinstates the charge construction in place earlier than the brand new hikes and directs the Division of Income to return any of the brand new charges already collected.
Attorneys for each side within the case informed the decide they’re negotiating and hope to achieve a settlement within the subsequent 60 days.