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 medical 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, Read More ...
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 medical 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.
Latest Blog Post: Sonoma Planning Commission Makes 14 Recommendations for New Cannabis Ordinance
This past Thursday night (May 9, 2019) the city of Sonoma Planning Commission reviewed the proposed cannabis ordinances and made a number of useful recommendations, though it does fall short of the number and types of businesses the City Council is currently considering (see #1). For those who may be interested, the ordinances can be seen here in their entirety.
The above video is a very interesting 20 minute excerpt from the meeting. We thank Robert Jacob, a former Mayor of Sebastopol and owner of a number of cannabis businesses for his public comments during the meeting. In a lively back-and-forth, he took exception to Hdl Companies, the consulting firm the city hired to help it fashion the ordinances. HdL’s representative, Tim Cromartie, was present and responded to Mr. Jacob’s assertion that the ordinances were overbearing and prohibitive. Mr. Jacob pointed out a number of issues with the ordinances and made suggestions for a less restrictive approach. The Planning Commission adopted a number of Mr. Jacobs points (as well as some of our own) in its recommendations to the City Council.
The City Council is free to accept or deny any of the following recommendations:
1. Permit only 1 retail storefront (with delivery). No non-storefront delivery, lab, or manufacturer
2. No live video feed to City Manager or Police Dept (footage can be reviewed later if/when necessary), no armed security (unclear on if they should be uniformed)
3. Applicant should not be required to have lease in hand to apply for permit
4. Delete the Community Benefits paragraph
5. Restrict cannabis businesses to Commercial Zones only.
6. Buffer Zones
Figure 1: Add the commercial on the south side of Plaza to Prod buffer
Figure 2: All fine with that buffer
Figure 3: Include Safeway and southern portion of 5th Street West Center in buffer
Figure 4: All fine with this buffer
7. Regarding Proposal Review Process, fix language “An administrative rating system shall be created by the City Manager” to add “and approved by the City Council” (5.36.111)
8. Delete reference to “federal law” (Section 5.36.010. Purpose and Intent.)
9. Evidence of sufficient capital to start business: Majority agrees on deleting Paragraph (l) Startup Cost and Evidence of Sufficient Capitalization (5.36.110 Required Proposal Content)
10. Fix liability language
11. Only necessary to “buzz in” once, to enter dispensary retail space
12. Delete (c) from Section 5.36.420. Community Relations – Liquor stores aren’t required to provide outreach, so why cannabis, which isn’t even addictive?
13. Signage: Majority wishes to delete (4) and (5) from (f) Signage and Notices (Section 5.36.310. General Operating Requirements)
14. Delete all of Section 5.36.410. Promulgation of Regulations, Standards and Other Legal Duties
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 medical marijuana 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
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 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 medical marijuana 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.
No State Grants for Cities that Ban Outdoor Cultivation
• 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 marijuana 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 marijuana laws.