The Gamblers: Richmond and other cities continue to litigate with unlicensed collectives

This article is the third or fourth I have read in the past week on cities choosing to litigate against collectives that opened without the city’s blessing San Jose, Mountain View, Gilroy, Monterey…and the list goes on. I never recommend to open without the blessing of the city if the cannot afford to lose their investment on a lottery or a backdoor sweetheart deal with other organizations. This just shows that it continues to be an uphill battle to get medical cannabis regulated.

Council won’t halt court cases against pot shops

Despite pleas from the owners and patrons of Richmond’s medical marijuana dispensaries, the city council decided Monday during a special, closed session to continue with court cases aimed at shutting down the city’s pot clubs.

Each of the city’s eight dispensaries have been faced with cease-and-desist orders from city prosecutors, who say that because Richmond doesn’t currently have rules on the books to govern or properly zone pot dispensaries, the shops are operating without permits, and therefore illegally.

The city council passed a first draft of an ordinance last week that will eventually set the framework for legally obtaining a license to sell medical marijuana within city limits; however that likely won’t be finalized until September at the earliest, and wouldn’t go into effect until November or December.

Once the city’s new ordinance takes effect, Richmond will be limited to only three dispensaries. New shops can only be opened in commercially zoned parts of town, and managers and shopkeepers will have to submit to a criminal background check before the city can issue them a marijuana business license. Berkeley and Oakland already have similar limits on medical cannabis shops in place.

Dispensary managers and owners had asked for the council to put off its litigation against them until the new laws go into effect. Mayor Gayle McLaughlin suggested during last week’s last regular council meeting that city prosecutors could ease off the dispensaries until the new marijuana ordinance becomes law. The council’s special meeting Monday was solely devoted to discussing whether to drop the court cases. However it appears McLaughlin didn’t have enough support on the council Monday to officially change the city’s stance.

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