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The Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group: Welcome to our new home.

Our mission is to assist the city of Sonoma form a compassionate cannabis policy that will accommodate a local dispensary and ensure safe and legal access to medicinal cannabis for the residents of Sonoma and Sonoma Valley. We’ll keep you informed on our progress and, if you haven’t already, please consider signing our petition, and tell your friends! You can find our petition here.

bear in coffee shop hovering over keyboard typing about cannabis

Call to Action! Personal Outdoor Cultivation and Dispensary in City of Sonoma.

The city of Sonoma Planning Commission and City Council will conduct public hearings on a draft ordinance that allows the outdoor cultivation of 3 plants for medicinal or personal use. However, this same draft ordinance also bans dispensaries. We feel that the outdoor provision is a step in the right direction, but find a ban on a dispensary to be unacceptable.

The city has invited public comment on both issues. You can send written comments to the Planning Commission, c/o Sonoma City Hall, No. 1 Plaza, Sonoma, CA 95476 -or- via email to planning@sonomacity.org, no later than September 13, 2018. Though comments on outdoor personal cultivation apply to citizens residing within the city limits, residents of Sonoma’s surrounding communities should comment with regard to the dispensary issue.

Citizens are also invited to make comments at the Planning Commission’s public hearing, Thursday, September 13, 2018 at the City Council Chambers, 177 1st St. W. at 6:30 PM.

The Planning Commission will then forward its recommendation to the City Council for its consideration. Again, citizens of Sonoma, and in the case of the dispensary issue, also its surrounding communities, are invited to make comments on the issues of personal outdoor cultivation and permitting a dispensary by sending written comments to the City Council, c/o Sonoma City Hall, No. 1 Plaza, Sonoma, CA 95476 -or- via email to citycouncil@sonomacity.org, no later than September 24, 2018.

The public is also invited to make comments at the City Council’s public hearing on September 24, 2018, at the City Council Chambers, 177 First Street West, at 6:00 p.m..

All the talking points supporting a dispensary and personal outdoor cultivation are listed on this page. Please feel free to use any of them, verbatim or in your own words, in your emails to the Sonoma Planning Commission and City Council. You can send them as separate emails or cc both bodies.

The official notice from the Planning Commission can be seen here.

The official notice from the City Council can be seen here.

If you would like some examples to help you write about the cultivation issue, here is correspondence from Santa Rosa residents solicited by that city’s Council last year.

Why the Residents of Sonoma Deserve a Local Dispensary

Cannabis dispensaries are proving to be an asset to the communities they serve, as well as the larger community within which they operate. The Americans for Safe Access survey of local officials and monitoring of regulatory activity throughout the State of California has shown that, once working regulatory ordinances are in place, dispensaries are typically viewed favorably by public officials, neighbors, businesses, and the community at large, and that regulatory ordinances can and do improve an area, both socially and economically.

• Sonoma patients should not be forced to make a 2+ hour round trip drive to obtain safe, legal access to medicinal cannabis. This can be especially difficult and stressful for the handicapped, those without a vehicle or are on a fixed income.
• Banning dispensaries places unnecessary hardship on patients with limited mobility and financial security.
• Prop 64 was adopted by 62% of Sonoma voters, more than any other county city or the county itself.
• Dispensaries provide essential services that should be readily available within the community.
• A rigid policy that bans medical cannabis dispensaries deprives patients of the medicine promised them by the Compassionate Use Act.

Regulated dispensaries are:

• legal under California state law
• helping to revitalize neighborhoods by bringing new customers to neighboring businesses
• not a source of community complaints

Regulated cannabis dispensaries benefit the community by:

• providing access for the most seriously ill and injured
• offering a safer environment for patients than having to buy on the illicit market
• improving the health of patients through education and social support
• harm reduction for those dependent on narcotics (opioids) and over the counter drugs2
• having a greater than average customer satisfaction rating for health care
• creating jobs
• generating tax revenue
• offering additional revenue through a retail component
• Being a valuable source of charitable donations and direct community outreach

Creating dispensary regulations combats crime because:

• dispensary security reduces crime in the vicinity
• street sales tend to decrease
• patients and operators are vigilant, any criminal activity gets reported to police

“Delivery Only” not an option:

Patients often require first-hand experience at a physical, walk-in style dispensary that openly displays all options. Not only does a dispensary offer an immediate view, it allows the patient to consult with knowledgeable staff who can provide recommendations as to which strain and dosing methodology may best suit a patient’s needs. In the case of delivery, patients are unable to physically preview the medication and determine on their own which item on the menu is best for them until it arrives at the door.

Benefits of a Dispensary:

• charitable donations
• direct community outreach
• employment opportunities

Our city’s voters have gone too long without reasonable, safe, affordable access. Let’s lead Sonoma away from fear and toward compassionate understanding. Let’s find the courage to give our residents a better chance at improved health and quality of life.

 

Personal Outdoor Cultivation

These are the main talking points supporting personal outdoor cultivation for medical and personal use. Please feel free to use any of them, verbatim or in your own words, in your email to the Sonoma Planning Commission and City Council. You can send them as separate emails or cc both bodies.

Proposition 64 Approved by Voters

• The voters of the State of California and the city of Sonoma agree that medical patients can cultivate for their personal use, up to 100 square feet, and that adult users over 21 can cultivate up to 6 plants.

Outdoor Cultivation is the Only Affordable Option for most Patients

• It is not affordable for low-income patients to purchase equipment for indoor cultivation, pay high electric bills, or to build a structure that may require City Permits. We need to keep affordable options available for medical cannabis patients.

• Sun-grown medicine, is the most natural, affordable, medical quality medicine for patients to produce for themselves.

Outdoor Cultivation is Environmentally Friendly (Green)

• Compared to indoor grown cannabis, sungrown plants typically require less soil amendments, fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides, making the outdoor method much more environmentally friendly.

• The City of Sonoma prides itself in being green, sustainable, and environmentally conscious. By forcing cannabis cultivation indoors, it does not meet these goals, and increases our county’s Carbon footprint.

Indoor Cultivation is a Safety Risk

• In-home cultivation can pose a bigger threat to public safety because lighting and ventilation systems can pose fire risks and other problems, like flooding, mold or other common by-products of agricultural activity inside a residence. According to Press Democrat search results, there have been at least 7 house fires associated with cannabis grows in the County in the last 4 years, two of which occurred in the greater Sonoma area. Considering the October fire, is it prudent to force residents to only cultivate indoors?

No Violent Crime

• Violent crime not an issue, as no large amounts of money are involved in 6 plant personal gardens.

Outdoor Bans Will Become Invalid

• According to Prop 64, any outdoor ban will likely become invalid when the California Attorney General determines that non-medical marijuana has become legal under federal law.

Cities that Ban Outdoor Cultivation Will Not Receive Important Grants from the State

• Revenues will be generated statewide through taxes on cannabis sales and funds will be distributed “for making grants to local governments to assist with law enforcement, fire protection, or other local programs addressing public health and safety associated with the implementation of the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act.” However, the Board won’t make grants to local governments which have banned the cultivation, including personal cultivation under Section 11362.2(b)(3) of the Health and Safety Code [outdoors upon the grounds of a private residence], or retail sale of marijuana or marijuana products.

Mitigating Nuisance Issues

• Odor: We live in a world of smells that aren’t always appealing to some. Breweries, coffee roasteries, auto exhausts are just a few that come to mind. We are subjected to the vinegary smell of grapes clipped from their vines and dropped in the vineyards along with hay and the lees from fermentation that are put back into the vineyards as compost. And of course, there is the infamous “Sonoma Aroma”. A couple of times each year, local dairy farmers start pumping out their holding ponds to spread cow manure on their fields. The odor can range from Petaluma to Sonoma in the east and all the way north to Healdsburg.

• Odor can be mitigated through companion planting of lavender, jasmine, rosemary, basil and many other pleasant smelling flowers and herbs.

• Consider that San Luis Obispo has resolved this issue through an ordinance that assumes that any odor (whether cannabis or not) is “offensive to individuals of normal sensitivity” if the city receives three or more complaints within a month from separate households or businesses about a single source of odor.

Water Use, Chemicals & Pesticides

• These issues are not applicable to small personal grows. No one would use pesticides on cannabis anymore than on their green beans or melons. Cannabis doesn’t use any more water than your tomato plants.

Outdoor Cultivation Recommendation:

• Allow for personal cultivation of 6 plants outdoors for medical/personal use in accordance with State cannabis laws.

Blog

SVCG sent the following email to both the Sonoma city council and planning commission prior to the Sept 24 city council meeting: Subject: Why Sonoma’s Elder Population Needs Safe, Local Access to a Cannabis Dispensary To: Sonoma City Council, Sonoma Planning Commission and staff: It is well known that cannabis has medical benefit for a …

Timeline for Permanent Ordinance for Cannabis Regulations

From the Sonoma City Manager: The permanent ordinance for cannabis regulations (including personal use and commercial) is going to follow the schedule below: 9/13 – Planning Commission Review (will make a recommendation to Council); agenda posted here: https://sonomacity.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Id=346 9/24 – City Council – Public Hearing and 1st reading of ordinance 10/1 – City Council – …

Notice of Public Hearing: City Council: Personal Outdoor Cultivation and Dispensary in City of Sonoma

Publish two times: Tuesday, September 4, 2018 and Friday, September 7, 2018 NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING Notice is hereby given that the City Council of the City of Sonoma, at a meeting on September 24, 2018 to be held in the City Council Chambers at 177 First Street West, will conduct a public hearing on …

About

The current mission of Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group (SVCG) is to work with the city of Sonoma to form a compassionate cannabis policy that will accommodate a local dispensary with delivery service to ensure safe and legal access to medicinal cannabis for the residents of Sonoma and Sonoma Valley.

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