Sonoma holding breath on cannabis

Sonoma holding breath on cannabis

Despite its newly-legal status in California, cannabis remains a topic that runs long on controversy. Legal to some degree in 29 states and the District of Columbia, cannabis is nonetheless illegal at the federal level, and its industry generates vast sums of cash that cannot be legally banked.

Depending on perspective, it is a mild intoxicant with real medical applications or a dangerous Schedule-1 narcotic. Its legal production and operational costs are expressly forbidden as deductions by IRS code 280e, the only commercial enterprise singled out in federal tax code this way.

To say that everyone in America has not yet made up their mind about cannabis is to state the obvious. And in the crosshairs of this indecision are entrepreneurs like Jon Early. Read More…

Letter to the Sonoma City Council: Let’s create a reasonable and informed policy

Letter to the Sonoma City Council: Let’s create a reasonable and informed policy

This letter was presented in person by Ken Brown and Jewel Mathieson to the City Manager this past Tuesday. I’ll be sending it to all council members and staff via email on Monday and Ken will present hard copies of same at the Dec 4 City Council meeting.

November 21, 2017

From: Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group

To: Sonoma City Council

Members of the Sonoma City Council,

Hello, my name is Gil Latimer and I represent the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group, a local grassroots advocacy organization. SVCG’s mission is to educate our community about the opportunities and challenges of integrating compliant cannabis businesses into the fabric of Sonoma and to encourage responsible, common sense policies that benefit public safety, the economy and the environment. SVCG thanks the Sonoma City Council for its willingness to open discussion about the implementation of the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA).

SVCG recognizes that the recently enacted MAUCRSA (SB-94) poses implementation challenges for localities. Because the state will begin issuing licenses on January 2, 2018, it has been advised that cities should proceed with their ordinances now, and not delay that process. This will preclude the state from unilaterally issuing a license for a business in those jurisdictions.

SVCG also recognizes that the City of Sonoma has not considered a comprehensive cannabis policy as one of its top goals and has been slow to enact a complete ordinance. Due to the desire to retain local control, the impending expiration of its moratoria, and concurrent drain on city resources by the recent valley fires, the city elected to extend its current moratoria on cannabis for an additional 12 months.

It is important for the City to recognize that the majority of its citizens voted in favor of Prop 64 and now feel thwarted by the seemingly unending process for implementing the voters’ will. It should be noted that certain members of the city council also share this frustration. Furthermore, lack of regulations and guidelines from elected officials will only continue to hinder safe patient access to the prescribed medicine that they require.

In order to create a reasonable and informed policy that facilitates the city’s implementation of MAUCRSA, SVCG recommends that the city:

1) Make a comprehensive cannabis ordinance a top goal in 2018.

2) Create a four month timeline that includes at least 3 more substantive public workshops to insure all stakeholders have an opportunity for input throughout the process.

SVCG looks forward to adding our insights and resources to the discussion, collaborating with stakeholders and helping the entire community through this transition. We ask the City of Sonoma to look at the entire landscape and continue discussion in ways that will provide its citizens with the fair, reasonable policy solutions it deserves.


Ken Brown Bear Flag Social Club

Jewel Mathieson Sonoma Patient Group

Gil Latimer Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group

Why does Sonoma continue to delay a decision on Personal Outdoor cultivation?

Why does Sonoma continue to delay a decision on Personal Outdoor cultivation?

The City is obligated to state why it conflated two separate issues, growing cannabis for personal use and dispensary robberies, in order to renew the latest moratorium. The following is the city’s justification for blocking citizens’ right to grow for personal use under the guidelines established by the State of California:

WHEREAS, the cultivation of medicinal and nonmedicinal cannabis in other cities has resulted in calls for service to their police departments, including calls for robberies and thefts, and the increase in criminal activity. On August 20, 2017, an employee of a Santa Rosa dispensary was robbed at gunpoint in the dispensary’s parking lot. The suspect took the employee’s stock of cannabis. In September 2017, two men were murdered near a large cannabis grow north of Santa Rosa. It is reasonable to assume that Proposition 64’s passage, without reasonable controls imposed by the City of Sonoma, will generate similar numbers of such incidents pertaining to the cultivation of nonmedicinal cannabis in the City of Sonoma. Incidents involving complaints resulting in criminal investigations and the discovery of illegal cannabis cultivations have already occurred in the City of Sonoma. In the event that the restrictions imposed by Ordinance No. 12-2016 are not extended, there is a current and immediate threat to the public health, safety and welfare of substantial numbers of persons cultivating nonmedicinal cannabis outdoors and creating the complaints and enforcement problems already experienced in other communities and in the City of Sonoma and exposing citizens to robberies, potential violence, vandalism of property and theft of cannabis plants being openly and visibly grown in the yards and grounds of residential properties throughout the City

Marijuana Use Among Sonoma Teens and Senior Citizens

Marijuana Use Among Sonoma Teens and Senior Citizens

There are many who feel teens will use cannabis to a greater degree after legalization.

Perhaps teens and young adults deserve a bit more credit.  According to the California Healthy Kids Survey for Sonoma County, consider that from 2011 to 2016, the numbers of Sonoma Unified 11nth graders who have used cannabis at least once in their lifetime has dropped from 49% to 43%. We can probably expect this trend to continue.

Let’s take a broader look at the demographics of cannabis. A recent study by Miner and Co. Studio belies the traditional ‘stoner’ stereotype. The average age of end-users is 30 years old on average, 65% have a household income of $75K or more, and 42% are parents of children.

According to “An Analysis of Applicants Presenting to a Medical Marijuana Specialty Practice in California”, Nunberg, H., et al. (Journal of Drug Policy Analysis), at least half of the population seeking medical recommendations through a physician group was over the age of 35.

And the fastest growing demographic of cannabis users in America is adults 55 or older. According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the number of cannabis users aged 55 or older jumped from 2,812,000 in 2013 to 4,309,000 in 2014.

Older Americans look to cannabis as an alternative to prescription opioids. Study after study shows cannabis is safer than other prescriptions for chronic pain and other ailments.

We would contend that the social benefits far outweigh the risks. Risk is inherent in all human activity, but it *can* be controlled and managed.

Sonoma should allow medical cannabis dispensary

Sonoma should allow medical cannabis dispensary

Bill Boerum has served on the Sonoma Valley Hospital Board and is a medical cannabis advocate. This was his statement to the Sonoma City Council’s special meeting, a Community Workshop on Cannabis, on Monday night: “Though not representing any specific organization, I have had 10 years of healthcare and hospital governance experience on the local, regional, and statewide levels. My other disclaimer is that I am not now, nor have I ever been a recreational or medicinal user of cannabis, and do not have any commercial interest in it. I am addressing you from the standpoint of public health policy about which I have been speaking here in the County and at statewide hearings.

Council and staff, you are taking on a big topic, expansive in its economic impact among different categories of providers, technical in many aspects, and despite continued voter support still controversial as emerging public policy. This complexity is indicated in the text and content attached to the agenda. Specifically, the presentation prepared by Cannabis Support Services as well as the staff prepared content informs the scope of the issue in its many dimensions.

For the Council’s consideration – going beyond enforcement and bureaucratic matters – it would be informative for Cannabis Support Services to survey two dimensions apparently not mentioned in the presentation. One, is the extent of current usage by recreational and medical users within our City. Second, the number of people growing cannabis (indoor and outdoor) within the City for personal use or small trade sale should be determined. Further, for a model of other municipal policy and ordinances, you should look to nearby Santa Rosa which was not mentioned in the presentation.

Council Members, as the electeds and community leaders, you are the deciders of policy and the direction-givers of ordinances, not the staff or consultants. Look to the realities of our own community. Be bold, be innovative. Don’t allow the development of this new industry to be suffocated by regulations. Don’t tax it to support enforcement over-kill. Don’t keep the black market alive. Bring the industry out of the shadows.

There are people in our city suffering from chronic and terminal conditions which can benefit from the curative and palliative attributes of medicinal cannabis. I will not go into reciting the list of conditions which can be treated, but they span from childhood epilepsy to ailments of seniors including pain management. It is likely that the opioid epidemic, spoken of nationally, but unrecognized in our community, can be ameliorated by cannabis as an exit treatment. Increasingly the medical benefits of cannabis and its derivatives are being attested by authoritative organizations. One is at UC San Diego, the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research – CMCR – which is gathering definitive anecdotal and clinical trial information.

What our City population needs is convenient access to medical cannabis, both from a dispensary as well as by delivery. I fully support the establishment in the City of Sonoma of a medical cannabis dispensary with delivery capabilities. Please move ahead expeditiously on this.

The Medical Board of California, the state agency which licenses and disciplines physicians, is moving ahead with its guidelines for physicians in recommending cannabis for medical use. As stated in the guidelines draft: cannabis is a “permissible treatment modality” in California. I spoke before the Medical Board’s Cannabis Task Force in Sacramento on August 30 making suggestions for the guidelines. The Board will be ready by January 1 with its physician guidelines. I hope that the City of Sonoma will have approved a dispensary before that date so that such a facility can be open to meet the needs of people suffering in our city.

From a broader vision perspective, as I have suggested that with so much longtime experience in the state and in the Northern California region across the cannabis industry, we have the opportunity to become the national practice leader in medical cannabis – as an innovative model across the country – as California is in so many other medical modalities, therapies, and technologies.

Bill Boerum, Sonoma