Sonoma City Council Meeting: Outdoor Personal Cultivation

When: Monday, April 16 at 6 PM
Where: City Council Chambers, 177 First Street West

The Sonoma City Council will have a first reading of a draft ordinance that includes banning all outdoor, personal cultivation. Public Comment is encouraged. Other cities in Sonoma County permit outdoor cultivation to one degree or another. If this issue is important to you as a medical patient or someone who grows for adult use, this is your opportunity to make your voice heard.

Sonoma Cannabis Town Hall Meeting #2 !

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 6:30-9:00 PM
Location: Sonoma Community Center, Andrews Hall, 276 E Napa St.

This is the last Town Hall meeting before the City Council decides on whether to permit a dispensary or not. It will focus on answering questions from the prior Town Hall, distance requirement options and other regulatory options for specific cannabis businesses, and potential taxing, fee and other administrative issues. There will be a question/answer portion, an exercise for attendees to give specific feedback, and a public comment period.

The Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group (SVCG) strongly encourages everyone in the Valley to come to this meeting. Your input on this important policy decision is *crucial* to the City Council’s decision regarding what regulations and what cannabis businesses to allow or prohibit in Sonoma. Safe, legal access to medicinal cannabis from a local dispensary hangs in the balance.

Sonoma Cannabis at the Crossroads

Local cultivator Erich Pearson is one of the few industry leaders who raised a hand to assist us when he wrote this editorial for the Sonoma Index-Tribune back in September. It’s an important reminder of why we all signed this petition. It’s an important reminder of why many of us joined the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group on Facebook. And, as the city council moves forward to make a final decision on whether to permit a medicinal dispensary or not, it should remind us all of how necessary it is to take a stand and participate in this process:

ERICH PEARSON

| September 21, 2017, 2:01PM

I operate Peace in Medicine and SPARC cannabis dispensaries located in Sonoma County and San Francisco, respectively. Our organization also farms cannabis organically in Sonoma Valley. After nearly 20 years in operation, our team includes over 150 employees, most of whom call Sonoma County their home.

We owe our success through an ever-changing landscape to our close adherence to best practices and an open dialogue with policymakers. It is in that spirit that I offer some valuable points of fact to inform the City of Sonoma’s implementation of emerging state law.

First, cannabis is medicine and has been in California since 1996. Nobody should have to leave town to access medicine. Patients deserve safe access in the places where they live and work.

Second, survey data released last week indicate a 21-percent decline in adolescent cannabis use during a period when 20 states and the District of Columbia legalized marijuana for medical use and eight states legalized it for recreational use. Moreover, state law mandates child-resistant packaging and restricts dosage for edible products. Our children are safe, and made safer by regulation not prohibition.

Third, cannabis businesses do not increase crime. A review of the states that legalized medical pot shows there was no increase in the seven major categories of violent crime and “some evidence of decreasing rates of some types of violent crime, namely homicide and assault.” Instead, they spur economic development in the form of taxes, jobs, and downstream benefits to local business.

Next, a deliberative approach to cannabis regulation was responsible when jurisdictions were wading into unchartered policy. Fortunately, that is not the case today. Cities and counties across the state, led by our neighbors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, have thoroughly mapped this territory and the state law builds upon those blueprints.

A slow, cautious approach at this late date serves someone’s purpose, but it does not serve the interest of patients, voters, or the City of Sonoma. The cannabis industry is at a crossroads in the United States and especially right here in Sonoma. In fact, a study published this week concludes any rise in marijuana use by adults over the past 20 years is not caused by legalization, but a response to changing attitudes about the perceived risks and benefits. Elected policymakers have an opportunity to heed the overwhelming and repeated will of voters, or thwart the democratic process by delaying the inevitable.

Finally, I encourage policymakers to learn from our neighboring jurisdictions and proceed with caution when adopting aggressive tax policies that fall outside the regional norm. If the economics don’t work, then there is no sense implementing a regulatory program because no one will sign up.

Moreover, tax policies that stymie participation will fuel the unregulated market, leaving the neighborhoods to suffer the consequences.

The future is now. The City of Sonoma has stalled on this matter for long enough and there is little need to rehash old debates. It is high time policymakers take rapid action to ensure safe access and welcome cannabis businesses as part of a diverse mix of vibrant economic development.

It is what patients deserve, and what voters demand.

Erich Pearson cultivates organic cannabis at his farm near Glen Ellen which he uses at his Peace in Medicine and SPARC dispensaries.