Sonoma Dispensary - Sonoma Valley Cannabis GroupFor responsible health care policy
Congratulations! We did it. After 3 and-a-half long years of cajoling and discussion, the city of Sonoma will permit 2 walk-in retail cannabis dispensaries. However, the first dispensary will likely not open until first quarter of 2022. And an overly-long and burdonsome process has yet to begin on selecting an applicant for the second. See our posts for the latest news on the process.
This campaign was never about making it easier for “stoners to get their weed”, as many of the opposition would like to think. It was always about the patients. Always. Now, the essential services that dispensaries provide will become readily available within our own community. Those being treated for medical problems will no longer have to make a 2+ hour round trip drive to obtain medicinal cannabis. The lives of our seniors and the disabled who may not have vehicles or are on fixed incomes will be less stressful and difficult. In turn, the city will benefit from new jobs and an additional source of tax revenue. It can also take pride in furthering a progressive vision that improves the quality of its residents’ lives.
We thank everyone in this group and on our mailing list for their support, for signing the petition, for writing the letters and contributing to the discussions.
Thanks to Ken Brown and Jewel Mathieson for their years of advocacy for patients’ access to safe, legal medical cannabis. Their goal has finally been realized.
And thanks to our City Council allies, former Councilwoman Rachel E Hundley, Councilwoman Amy Harrington and Mayor Logan Harvey for leaning forward on this issue. They’ve helped define Sonoma as a city of progressive values and a pacesetter in Sonoma County.
In the meantime, the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group will continue to keep you informed on all the latest developments in 2021-22.
Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group
The Voice for Cannabis in Sonoma Valley since 2017
The mission of Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group (SVCG) has been to assist the city of Sonoma 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.
On January 20, the city council voted to amend our ordinance to permit an additional walk-in retail dispensary. The newly revised ordinance will be in effect on May 19.
A second retail outlet will improve service to the 45,000 people living in the greater Sonoma area. Competition can provide folks here with easy, safe access to more product choice, better services, etc. That’s what the free market is all about, isn’t it? Everybody wins, the city, adult consumers and *especially* medical users.
However, there have been forces within the industry that worked against the second dispensary option and would prefer that the new permit process be slow-walked. You can read about it in this post.
We also find it interesting that our own local newspaper, the Sonoma Index-Tribune, has passed on this latest story of a second dispensary, not to mention another recent, local cannabis story of real importance. Should we be suspicious?
Sometimes pictures can be worth much more than words. Our infograph tells the story of why we need the dispensary process to begin ASAP. We’ll forward this to the City Council.
The Sonoma County Registrar of Voters this week began mailing vote-by-mail ballots for the Nov. 2, 2021.
So a small group of us came together as a mayoral candidate review committee to suggest an endorsement. We’ve done a lot of research on backgrounds and four of us went to the recent Candidates night sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. We spoke with all three candidates and gave them a handout describing our current situation with the stalled process.
The 200+ member Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group continues to work to prevent a monopoly of service within the city of Sonoma.
1. Great weave by Josette Brose-Eichar of the Mattson issue with the dispensary process.
2. Mayor almost skips over my Zoom public comment
3. Member Perri Ellis Paniagua‘s Zoom hand was finally recognized after being raised for 40 minutes. After she explained she’d been waiting and that she had no comment on the item at hand, she was perfunctorily dismissed with a “thank you”. Some time later council attempted to re-establish with Perri, to no avail.
The City Council still has technical and managerial issues when it comes to both accommodating public comment and running a meeting smoothly.
“We’re asking that this process not begin for another year so we can have a year’s worth of data on profitability to see how viable the business is and see if the city can sustain another business.”
In a stunning moment at the September 8 city council meeting, Erich Pearson, CEO of Responsible Patient Care, Inc and doing busiensss as SPARC (San Francisco Patient and Resource Center) asked the city council to table its process for a second dispensary in the city of Sonoma.
Reaction from medical patients, recreational consumers and the cannabis industry has been swift and strong. Patients argue that sparc’s scheme would limit their access to quality products and competitive pricing. Many industry professionals feel Pearson’s move places the already struggling local cannabis industry in a bad light.
It’s not enough that this flies in the face of free market enterprise (let’s see how well this coffee shop does before we allow another one). Do not be surprised that, come a year from now, Mr Pearson will report that sparc wasn’t particularly profitable and recommend the city extend his corporation’s de facto “moratorium” on cannabis business even longer.
Certainly, council members understand what it means to operate in a free market environment.
Ms. Harrington, Mr. Harvey, and Mr. Barnett and Mr. Ding all voted to permit an additional walk-in dispensary. That is the legacy of 4 and a half years of hard work by patients, consumers, advocates and the city. This has been the democratic process in action and it should be honored. We encourage the city council to fulfill that commitment and move the dispensary process forward with no unnecessary delay.
The second dispensary process is currently delayed pending more information from Staff to the council.
SVCG member Perri Ellis Paniagua wrote the following to the Index Tribune:
‘It should not be this hard’ on cannabis
EDITOR: I am disappointed with what happened at the Wednesday, Sept. 8, Sonoma City Council meeting regarding the agenda topic on the second cannabis dispensary. Many council members expressed concern that there was little public support that night, while the only permitted dispensary owner pleaded with the council to table the process for a year so he could evaluate his profitability, at which point he could advise the City on whether it should permit a second dispensary. What a tactic! A business owner wants to eliminate competition, free enterprise and capitalism and be the only operator in town.
Supporters were caught off guard after a three-day weekend, getting kids back off to school, etc., thinking the council had already agreed to a second dispensary, just the process had to be worked out. There are so many folks here who for years have worked tirelessly on getting medical cannabis dispensaries in town. They are weary of the continued roadblocks thrown in front of any progress.
Please recognize the long history of positive support in Sonoma. So many people have spoken directly to council or sent emails numerous times in support of local access over the years. Also, remember that in 2016, California voters overwhelming made cannabis legal. Many communities have approved dispensaries that are up and running successfully without all the drama. It just should not be this hard. Residents with medical conditions should not have to drive out of town for pain relief or pay outrageous delivery costs. Please move forward.
Perri Ellis Paniagua
Others of us submitted Comments below the letter::
I’d like to echo Perri Ellis Paniagua’s letter. It is important that city council and staff remember that they have heard from Sonoma and Sonoma Valley citizens on numerous occasions and in a variety of ways since it took up the second dispensary issue. A quick check of the city’s Public Correspondence folder shows that since the beginning of the year, the city council has received over 20 emails in support of a second dispensary. That’s about the same number of emails in all of the Housing folders and much more than many other issues have garnered.
In that same period, many have also voiced their support during city council meetings, even when the topic was not on the agenda.
The Springs Community Facebook Group posting of our January article in the Index-Tribune, “Valley Forum: Sonoma would support second dispensary”, received 45 positive reactions, quite sizable for Facebook.
The Index-Tribune itself ran a poll that showed 52% of respondents supported 2 or more dispensaries.
Let’s also remember that the petition for Measure Y, which would have removed most barriers to cannabis business permits, was signed by over 750 registered voters and actually supported by nearly 44% (2,896) of Sonoma residents in the November election.
There is no lack of public interest on this topic here in Sonoma. It was because of our civic interest that the city council first entertained the notion of a second dispensary before it had even decided to make its award to one of the five finalists.
Gil Latimer – Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group
Josette here, As a member of SVCG I would like to second everything Gil Latimer has commented on. Many of us have worked hard over the past few years with the city to get a cannabis ordinance done, and a second dispensary added to the ordinance to provide choice, especially for medical users of cannabis. I urge you all to read the January, Valley Forum piece.
Of the 200+ members of the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group, many work within, or alongside, the cannabis industry. Some are cultivators. Some are consultants. There are attorneys and real estate agents. Some in our group are also members of other industry groups and organizations. Some of our members own, or are employed by, cannabis businesses or ancillary businesses.
Isn’t it in the industry’s best interest to support its supply chain? Retail plays a major role in its survival, but it is struggling under jurisdictions’ local control.
As a battle looms to prevent a monopoly of service within the city of Sonoma, we thought it would be useful to highlight opinions on what many in the industry see as an effort by one company to control the free market in order to remain sole provider for medical and recreational cannabis locally.