JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Some local business owners are not happy about a new permitting process for those who sell tobacco or vapor products in unincorporated areas of Jefferson Parish.
Business owners like Jeff Weber got a letter in the mail recently. It says those who sell tobacco, alternative nicotine or vapor products in unincorporated Jefferson Parish will now have to go through a new permitting process and pay a $1,000 annual fee for that permit.
"Everything is coming out of the business's pocket," said Weber.
Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts said the new permitting process was put in to place to help crack down on the sale of synthetic marijuana and other illegal activity. Vendors will now have to go through a background check before they get a permit, and law enforcement will know if they've been in trouble before.
"We're hearing about a lot of different cases as it relates to vendors who may have been selling things that they're not supposed to be selling," Roberts said. "They close up shop, move down the street under a different name and they're selling products again. This circumstance gives the sheriff's office a tool to be able to hold accountable businesses that are breaking the law and to ensure that we are not putting people at risk.".
But Weber said the new permitting process puts small businesses like his at a disadvantage.
"It's an additional fee and an additional process that I am going to have to go through that none of my other competition has to, in addition to the other taxes that the state and the cities have been imposing. I have to compete with online sales," said Weber.
Even though the letter to business owners says they'll need to pay a $1,000 for that new permit, Roberts said they're working on lowering the annual fee to around $100 to $200. We're told those who have already paid the $1,000 fee will be reimbursed.