Modesto cannabis dispensary owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees

Stanislaus County could change its cannabis fee structure with a proposed sales tax measure that may be placed on the November ballot.

Modesto cannabis dispensary Peoples Remedy faces $232,000 in fees from Stanislaus County. 

Despite the major debt owed to the county, dispensary owner Mark Ponticelli may have a path forward with the local government to avoid having the development agreement canceled. 


The big picture: Last week the Stanislaus County Planning Commission recommended to the Board of Supervisors to consider new terms to Ponticelli’s fee debt. 

  • That recommendation comes ahead of a possible November ballot measure to implement an eight percent tax on gross cannabis sales in Stanislaus County. 
  • The tax would replace the fees that Peoples Remedy owes to the county, axing the current quarterly fee system. 
  • The Board of Supervisors will decide on Tuesday whether or not to place the tax measure on the November ballot. 

Driving the news: Last week the Planning Commission considered canceling Peoples Remedy development agreement, but expressed concern that illegal cannabis sellers could see a boost without a legal market in place locally. 

  • Ponticelli told the Planning Commission that he has paid nearly $2.3 million in fees since 2020. 
  • The original fee was set at $600,000 or eight percent of gross sales, but sales have been declining.
  • In early 2022, the county agreed to lower the minimum fee to $331,270 annually due to poor market conditions and competition with lower-cost illegal marijuana.
  • Ponticelli offered a payment plan to pay down his debt, but it was rejected by county staff.
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