Legislation to allow the Department of Revenue and Taxation to begin issuing medical marijuana business licenses was debated during session at the Legislature on Wednesday.

Lawmakers spent much of the afternoon considering a failed proposal to set a tiered fee structure for the three types of commercial cultivation licenses Rev and Tax would offer should Bill 69-34 be enacted.

Freshman Sen. Joe San Agustin, D-Yigo, introduced Bill 69 to address an oversight in Public Law 33-220 — the law authorizing the implementation of the medical pot program. The law failed to include Rev and Tax as an entity to process medical marijuana business licenses.

Under San Agustin’s measure, prospective marijuana businesses looking to set up a commercial cultivation site would have to pay a flat fee of $1,000 to Rev and Tax, not including other fees that need to be paid to the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

Currently, Public Health issues three types of commercial cultivation licenses. Type 1 covers premises up to 2,500 square feet; Type 2 is for sites between 2,501 and 5,000 square feet. A Type 3 license is needed for sites as large as 10,000 square feet.

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Sen. Mike San Nicolas, D-Dededo, had proposed an amendment to the bill to have Rev and Tax charge $1,000 for a Type 1 license, $2,000 for a Type 2 license and $3,000 for the Type 3 license. 

The amendment is “to try and allow for parity, level the playing field, so a smaller operator isn’t paying a disproportionally larger share to get a business license than a larger operator with respect to their larger business,” San Nicolas said.

Some senators expressed concerns about the amendment, including whether the proposed new fees would require another public hearing.

San Nicolas withdrew his amendment and said it can be addressed later.

Speaker Benjamin Cruz later proposed an amendment to prohibit limited liability companies from applying for a medical marijuana business license on island. Such entities, he said, could be run by gangs or groups of organized crime.

“Unless you can peel through the 10 layers of an LLC’s onion, we may never know if it’s owned by the Yakuza or mafia, and I’d like for these things to be owned by legitimate living human beings that reside on this island,” Cruz said.

Discussion on Cruz’s proposal was set aside before lawmakers could decide whether to move forward with it. Lawmakers are scheduled to continue debate on the speaker’s amendment and Bill 69 Thursday morning at 10 a.m.

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