We have told you in the past that Richmond Mayor Tom Butt is looking for a number of ways to raise money for his cash-strapped city, which is struggling to close a budget deficit of about $8 million for next fiscal year.
On Tuesday night, one day before the annual 4/20 marijuana celebration, Mayor Butt called for the legalization and regulation of dozens of marijuana grow operations in the city that sell their product commercially. They are all illegal and thus operating in the shadows, he said.
Under Butt’s plan, which he pitched during a lengthy discussion on marijuana regulation at City Council, commercial cultivators operating as marijuana collectives would pay permit fees and taxes to the city, Butt said.
“There are so many of them, we just don’t have enough police power or City Attorney power to go in and shut them all down,” Butt said.
He added, “We desperately need money in the City of Richmond. “I want to get…a commercial cultivation permit in place as soon place as possible so we can start collecting money.”
He said the city could net hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in permit fees and tax revenue.
A city official warned that many would continue to operate illegally just to avoid paying tens of thousands of dollars to the city.
Still, Mayor Butt asked that city staff return to a future city council meeting with direction on how to regulate all marijuana cultivators in the city, including those currently operating in the shadows.
“Well I don’t want to shut em down,” he said. “I want them to put money in the city treasurer.”