Richmond has cleared the way to double its number of medical marijuana dispensaries.
The City Council early Wednesday approved an ordinance permitting as many as six of the cannabis shops in the city, provided they don't share a property line with a residence, and there aren't more than three within a square mile.
The expanded law -- the city previously approved three dispensaries -- means Richmond could have one of the highest concentrations of marijuana shops per capita in the Bay Area.
In Oakland, which has a population nearly four times that of Richmond, officials on March 14 doubled their permit allotment for dispensaries from four to eight.
Several Richmond residents voiced their concern with the expansion during public comment at Tuesday night's meeting.
"Six is excessive, especially in a city of this size," resident Garland Ellis said.
Before Tuesday's meeting, Councilman Jeff Ritterman said there was good reason for the expansion.
"We have been working with these six dispensaries for a couple of years now," Ritterman said. "All are qualified, and all have done lots of hard work and also have incurred considerable expense to comply with the process."
The new law passed 4-1, with Councilman Tom Butt dissenting. Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles were absent.
Butt said the council overreached. "Last year, the entire council was on board with a consensus for three dispensaries,"
The first three dispensaries were approved in December. The new law, which takes effect in late April, also allows dispensaries to change locations within the city with approval from the chief of police and a public services committee. The city's Finance Department estimates that each permitted marijuana collective would generate annual sales tax revenue of about $200,000.