Amended ordinance expands permits for medical marijuana collectives to four

Both Councilmembers Jeff Ritterman and Nat Bates said an increase in the number of allowable collectives would benefit the city.

Both Councilmembers Jeff Ritterman and Nat Bates said an increase in the number of allowable collectives would benefit the city.

The City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday to allow an increase in the number of medical marijuana collectives operating in Richmond from three to four.

Councilmember Jeff Ritterman summed up the majority council opinion, saying he didn’t “see that much of a downside” going from three to four collectives.

Ritterman, along with Councilmembers Nat Bates, Corky Booze and Jim Rogers, rejected the notion that the increase posed additional risks.

Rogers added that allowing four collectives to operate did not mean that four collectives would necessarily be approved for permits. He said the council would “still have the right to revoke the permits if we need to.”

Echoing concerns of the dissenting councilmembers, Jovanka Beckles said the increase set a “bad precedent” and was not a “fair way of conducting business.”

The idea to amend the ordinance that limits the number of collectives was born from a Sept. 13 meeting, when the council allowed a medical marijuana permit application to be submitted after the submission deadline had expired. The decision renewed discussion regarding the three collective limit, with the council deciding to revisit the ordinance at a future council meeting.

Councilmember Tom Butt and Mayor Gayle McLaughlin both said that it made little sense to change an ordinance that had been previously debated and agreed upon. Butt argued that the increase was unwarranted given Richmond’s size.

“I’ve never heard anyone complain that there aren’t enough pharmacies in Richmond,” Butt said. “If we find that we need to expand the program later on, then we can do so.”

On Sept. 21, the Public Safety Committee agreed to move the ordinance amendment to the full council with a unanimous recommendation of approval.

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