Sonoma City Council Meeting

When: Monday, December 4, 2017

Where: Community Meeting Room, 177 First Street West

Though an agenda will not be published until Friday, Dec 1, it has been suggested by staff that it will present the council with a timeline for writing a comprehensive ordinance at its next meeting. This cannot be confirmed until an agenda is published, however. We hope that you come to this meeting and let your voice be heard, even if our issue is not on the agenda. Without pressure from the public, this issue will continue to drag. It’s our job to help keep council and staff responsible for addressing the needs of the community. : )

What about outdoor cultivation?

four marijuana plants in pots


One of our members touched on a subject that affects everyone interested in personal outdoor cultivation, especially patients. The local cannabis issue is actually broader than licensing a dispensary in Sonoma. This city, along with many other cities and counties across California, are grappling with crafting ordinances that include regulations on personal indoor/outdoor cultivation, commercial cultivation, recreational retail, testing labs, manufacturing, kitchens, distribution services, how much to tax any cannabis businesses, and more – no easy task.
Some decisions will be relatively simple for the city to make. However, the issue of outdoor personal cultivation could be sticky. In this respect, patients are paramount. Outdoor cultivation for medical patients comes part and parcel with the issue of local access. Is it proper to deny patients the opportunity to cultivate their own medicine outdoors?

Exercise your power for a local dispensary!

Our cannabis community needs to recognize its power and act on it. We need to translate public support into public policy. According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, 94% of voters support the legal use of cannabis for medical purposes with a doctor’s prescription. And, btw, this was the highest level of support in any national poll Quinnipiac University has’s obvious that the American public is way ahead of its politicians in this regard. Our community is no different. If the city Council chooses to deny the will of its citizens in regard to permitting a dispensary for safe, local access to cannabis, why shouldn’t its membership be reevaluated by the voters come next November?

Teens, alcohol and cannabis use

So, where is the “tipping” point here? How many wine related businesses exist on the Square and streets within a block of it? How many wine related businesses are there within the city limits? And to what do they contribute? – recreational drinking (for good or bad) and the city coffers.

teen behind empty wine bottles

Did you know that, according to the latest California Healthy Kids Survey for Sonoma County, 54% of 11nth graders have admitted to using alcohol at least once in their lifetime? By contrast, 43% of 11nth graders have admitted to using cannabis for the same period.

Let’s look at the figures for the Sonoma Unified School District, even closer to home. 58% of 11nth graders have admitted to using alcohol at least once in their lifetime and 43% have used cannabis in the same period. County-wide, significantly more teens are drinking alcohol than using cannabis. And the percentage of teens drinking alcohol locally is even higher, yet cannabis use remains the same locally as across the county.

Let’s also 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%.

Is that an aberration? What about other states? The 2016 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey reveals that cannabis usage rates for 8th, 10th, and 12th graders have remained basically unchanged for the past decade. These findings further confirm data coming from Colorado and Oregon, as well. After legalization in those states, the number of students who used or who had ever tried cannabis has tended to remain stable.

And what about alcohol? The CDC reports that more than 37,000 annual U.S. deaths are attributed to alcohol use alone. Health-related costs for alcohol consumers are eight times greater than those for cannabis consumers, according to an assessment recently published in the British Columbia Mental Health and Addictions Journal. Alcohol is more addictive than cannabis. Its use increases the risk of injury to oneself or others. Research published in 2011 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found that 36% of hospitalized assaults and 21% of all injuries are attributable to alcohol use by the injured person. Meanwhile, the American Journal of Emergency Medicine reported that lifetime use of cannabis is rarely associated with emergency room visits.

Cannabis is statistically less harmful than alcohol, and it’s time to treat it that way. There is absolutely *no* good argument for why the voters of the city of Sonoma should be denied local access to a medicinal cannabis dispensary.

Dispensary at hospital; Big money?; Cannabis and Seniors – fastest growing demographic

It’s our understanding that hosting a dispensary at Sonoma Valley Hospital or any other hospital in the country would put them in legal peril. Intentional violation of the Controlled Substances Act could lead to fines or imprisonment for employees, closure of a facility, loss of DEA controlled-substances registration and facility licensure, and loss of federal health care funding.

Secondly, it’s not my impression that Sonoma is looking to be dazzled by big money from cannabis, though there is a certain hypocrisy in allowing umpteen tasting facilities yet hand-wringing over one medicinal and/or retail cannabis outlet.

The residents of Sonoma and its elected officials seem pretty level headed and pragmatic, for the most part. Let’s consider the local “social fabric” and grant the likelihood that over 30% of Sonoma’s population is aged 50 and above and that, according to a 2016 study, seniors are the fastest-growing cannabis demographic in the country, with medicinal use among those 55 and older increasing by 53 percent between 2013 and 2014. It is clearly time to allow a dispensary and its accompanying delivery service to exist in Sonoma.

Good regulations regarding children’s safety

secure cannabis bags


This is important. We are all concerned about our children’s welfare.
● With the passage of SB 94 (MAUCRSA), hardcore advertising and packaging restrictions are now in play. These include:
○ advertising or marketing cannabis or cannabis products in a manner intended to encourage persons under 21 years of age to consume cannabis or cannabis products
○ advertising or marketing on a billboard or similar advertising device located on an Interstate Highway or on a State Highway which crosses the California border
○ advertising or marketing cannabis or cannabis products on an advertising sign within 1,000 feet of a day care center, school providing instruction in kindergarten or any grades 1 through 12, playground, or youth center.
○ free giveaways of cannabis or cannabis accessories as part of a business promotion.
○ publishing or disseminating advertising or marketing that is attractive to children.
○ packages and labels shall not be made to be attractive to children
○ edible cannabis products shall not be designed to be appealing to children or easily confused with commercially sold candy or foods that do not contain cannabis.
○ packaging shall be designed or constructed to be significantly difficult for children under five years of age to open
○ all product labels and inserts shall include the government warning in large, bold font.