Richmond is now accepting applications from those hoping to open a pot club here, and will hold public hearings before deciding who gets a permit.

Up to three permits will be granted as part of the city's plan to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries but give access to patients who say they rely on them.

The application deadline is May 2. Potential applicants can ask questions about the process at a public meeting from 2-5 p.m. Thursday ¿at 440 Civic Center Plaza.

An influx of pot clubs took officials by surprise in late 2009 and early 2010, when the number of confirmed sites rose to eight. City attorneys sought court injunctions to shut them down.

After multiple hearings in which dispensary clients lobbied to keep clubs open, the council agreed to allow three permitted collectives and restrict them to regional commercial zones, such as Hilltop and the Pacific East Mall area. They must be a certain distance from schools, parks and community centers, among other criteria.

Applicants will pay $2,085 to cover the cost of determining if an application is complete; $16,787 to review a complete application; and $15,690 per quarter for regulations and inspections if they receive a permit.

Pot clubs will pay a 5 percent tax on gross receipts, under a ballot measure voters approved in November. How much the tax generates will depend on how many sites open, how brisk sales are and other factors.



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