Richmond City Council Votes to Allow Double the Amount of Medical Cannabis Shops

The ordinance passed 4-1, with Councilman Tom Butt opposing the measure.

By Laura Dixon
|  Wednesday, Mar 21, 2012  |  Updated 8:31 PM PDT
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Butt said the new law means the city would allow one medical marijuana dispensary per 17,000 residents, surpassing even Oakland, which allows one cannabis shop per 50,000 residents.

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Richmond's city council voted Tuesday night to pass an ordinance allowing up to six medical marijuana dispensaries to do business there.

The law allows twice the amount of marijuana shops previously permitted to operate in Richmond, but prohibits the shops from sharing property lines with homes and prevents more than three such stores from doing business within a square mile, according to a city staff report.

The ordinance passed 4-1, with Councilman Tom Butt opposing the measure. Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles were absent.

Butt said the new law means the city would allow one marijuana dispensary per 17,000 residents, surpassing even Oakland, which allows one cannabis shop per 50,000 residents.

The councilman said the new ordinance would allow marijuana shops to open closer to residences than previously permitted.

He said he voted against the law because he does not believe there is anything to signal a need for more than three marijuana shops in the town of roughly 100,000 people.

"I thought it would be appropriate to stick with our original ordinance and see how it works out," he said.

Currently, none of the three marijuana dispensaries permitted to operate in Richmond have opened for business, Butt said.

Council members Jeff Ritterman and Jim Rogers did not immediately return calls for comment today.

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