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 late summer. 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.
Ken Brown and Jewel Mathieson, in Spirit
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?
Hello to our SVCG Members,
Of the over 200 members of our Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group, how many of you are part of the industry? How many of you are cultivators? How many are consultants? Or attorneys or real estate agents? How many of you are members of other industry groups and organizations? How many own, or are employed by, cannabis businesses or ancillary businesses that benefit from the industry? We know the number is relatively small, but it’s also far from insignificant.
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.
How many in our group consider themselves recreational consumers? How important is product choice and availability for you? What about price? When you visit a dispensary, are you looking for an experience that is tailored to your age and lifestyle? Are you looking for educational services or great customer service? Would you have the confidence that just one retail outlet could deliver 100% on all of the above?
Finally, how many of you rely on cannabis for medical reasons? If you’re used to purchasing a particular product at a local dispensary that you know works really well for your insomnia – or your arthritis – or the pain in your newly reconstructed knee – or your chemo-therapy side effects, and then you go back next week and find that the dispensary no longer carries it, what do you do? Get back in the car for the long round trip to Santa Rosa? Pay that extra fee to have it delivered to you from out of town?
The point is, we’re all connected in this issue. Everyone pays a price when we are limited to doing business with just one local provider. We all lose – industry, rec consumers and, most importantly for those who we brought this advocacy group to life, medicinal patients.
If any of this is important to you, this is the time to make an impression on the city council and staff to follow through on their commitment to a second dispensary process.
We have three options.
Before this Monday night’s city council meeting, Aug 2,
1) Send an email to the city council with the Subject line “Please move forward on the second dispensary process”. Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Join the City Council meeting via Zoom to make a comment. Meeting starts at 6pm and Public Comment starts soon afterward. Visit: https://zoom.us/j/94943925973 and either sign-up for a
free Zoom account or continue as a guest.
3) Or we can do nothing. But, without public pressure, the city could ignore and delay. If that becomes the case, we should be prepared to be at the mercy of one single provider that, without the pressure of competition for likely the next 2-4 years, may not work for our best interests.
Personal stories are the best, but if you need talking points:
Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group
Our email to the City Planning Director, followed by his response:
July 20, 2021
To: David Storer email@example.com
City Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope your summer is going well. : )
Can you give us an update on Sparc’s current status? Now that the appeal has been withdrawn, will they be moving forward on building permits, etc?
In regards to a 2nd dispensary, has your office made progress on locating a consultant for the new process?
We did offer two candidates last April, Avenu Insights and SCI Consulting. We’d now like to add a third, Tierra West Advisors. We’ve linked to their Services page, which lists a number of past city/clients. Perhaps contacting one or two of them regarding their experiences with TWA could be helpful.
SCI Consulting Group
Tierra West Advisors
We recall that at the April 19 city council meeting, staff estimated that the task of preparing regulation and guideline documents could be completed in 90 days. Do those documents require many changes? Are they based on the documents that were produced for the first dispensary process?
Obviously, we all have great interest in moving this new plan forward in as timely a manner as possible. We appreciate your efforts to streamline the evaluation process and look forward to learning more at the upcoming August 2 council meeting. : )
CC: Ken Brown
On Jul 20, 2021, at 10:48 AM, David Storer <email@example.com> wrote:
Hi there Gil:
Updated per your email…
1) SPARC has submitted applications for building permits with the Building Dept. and they are being processed.
2) Staff is still in the process of contacting consultants and will continue to search. Thanks for the additional reference.
3) Since that meeting where the City Council discussed a new process, as you know there has been personal changes. That said, we now also have a new City Manager that (fortunately) has a lot of experience in cannabis related matters and I think it is a great opportunity to learn from him and receive his counsel as we move forward. At the prior meeting, the City Council was interested in a shorter timeline and one that may change the order of things from the first process that was adopted.
4) Now that the appeal has been withdrawn, I am not aware of any cannabis related matter on the agenda for August 2nd at this time.
Hope this helps…
We just received confirmation from Associate Planner Wendy Atkins that the appeal filed re: sparc location has been withdrawn. It will not appear on the August 2 city council agenda.
So, as Emily Latella once famously said, “Never mind…”
One less thing to worry about. Now, what about that consultant? We’ve received another lead and will be forwarding it to the Planning Dept. early next week.
We will let you know of the latest developments.
An appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision to approve Sparc’s permit and plan has been filed with the city of Sonoma. The individual who made the appeal felt “The proposed changes to the building are inappropriate to something that is a historic resource in Sonoma. The building is still part of a cultural landscape that includes an adobe building and other remnants of the original resort.” The appeal will be heard by the city council at its August 2 meeting.
Meanwhile, the city’s staff is rapidly approaching its tentative deadline for finishing new administrative regulations and application procedures and guidelines to allow for the selection of a second retail storefront cannabis business. However, the response from staff to our latest query is that they’ve yet to find a consultant to assist in managing the new process. This suggests there will be a delay before an RFP (Request for Proposals) is posted and applications taken.
We’re closely monitoring both of the above and will let you know of the latest developments.
To the 40,000 residents of Sonoma Valley, you will eventually have access to a wider variety of product choices, services and more competitive pricing to meet your needs.
After succeeding in our pursuit of Sonoma’s first cannabis dispensary, we took on a new mission to permit a *second* dispensary and won.
We’d like to think this is the result of a partnership between us and the city council. Would we be where we are today without both? Would
former Mayor Ken Brown still be standing in front of council every two weeks asking it to please agendize discussion of a dispensary, as he was doing 3 and a half years ago?
When we first got our group rolling, we worked very hard to cultivate relationships with sitting council members and candidates for council. We have definitely been a hub for discussion and action in the valley. No one else can claim that.
Much of the book on the 20 year saga of cannabis in Sonoma has now been written. The Afterword is still a bit in flux, nothing has opened yet, and we’ll see how much the new process can be streamlined to open a second retail outlet asap.
But, on this Day of 420 (of all days), maybe we can take a little pride in helping to bring safe, legal access to cannabis here in the valley.
We think Christian Kallen’s article is generally correct/factual, but let’s set the record straighter.