Index-Tribune Letter to Editor: Cannabis decision ‘shameful and embarrassing’

EDITOR: As a member of the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group, I found the City Council’s recent decision to deny patients access to a local dispensary shameful and embarrassing.

Our group’s 250 members have advocated for a dispensary/delivery service within Sonoma for nearly a year. We’ve always offered assistance and information to the council as it worked to create a comprehensive cannabis ordinance.

Despite face-to-face discussions and the reams of material SVCG provided, and despite the town hall meetings that showed overwhelming support for a dispensary, the majority of the council continued to rely on “war on drugs” perceptions and voted to severely limit the right to safe, local access to medical cannabis.

They paid lip service to medical cannabis, said they understood its health benefits. They patronized us with comments like, “When I’m sick, I’m sure I’ll go to you for advice.” We hosted an educational forum that included world-renowned cannabis physician Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather, but no council member came to learn. The petition names and personal stories we offered them mattered not. Nor did the copious number of emails we sent. Those are real people, real lives that the majority of the council chose to ignore.

They are unable to make strong, reasonable arguments for their position and cannot make an informed decision, (which one expects from elected officials), yet they have the right to make insupportable judgements that affect so many. There is something seriously wrong with this picture.

A city is a living body, not a machine. It doesn’t need mechanics to keep an eye on operation, it needs sustenance to grow and progress. City governments owe it to their citizens to do everything they can to empower them.

In a free society, people do have the right to be wrong. However, elected officials can be held accountable for decisions that run counter to the majority. All political power is inherent in the people.

Government is founded on their authority and instituted for their benefit. The people always have the right to change their government in any way they see fit.

If it must come down to November, so be it. Safe access to a local dispensary will be a campaign issue. Any candidate for city council who supports that ideal, without equivocation, should be considered.

Gil Latimer

Sonoma

Outdoor cultivation, Yes – Dispensary, No

no dispensary sign

 

As they say, we have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the Council is likely to allow three personal cannabis plants to be grown outdoors. It’s not a done deal yet, but the Council directed the staff to draw up an ordinance to that effect. Stay tuned…

We’d like to refer again to Index-Tribune journalist Christian Kallan’s great article that focused on medical patients who grow their own plants outdoors. The article can be found here.

We would like to thank the Index Tribune for such a strong edition. Not only did it include Christian Kallan’s article, it also published a poll that showed 80% of respondents supporting “backyard cannabis plants” here, a letter to the editor in support of a local dispensary here, and even a political cartoon on the editorial page.

The bad news is, the Council voted 3 to 2 to reject a dispensary, even one limited to medicinal only. This, in spite of everything that had been presented to them, including our Change.org petition signatures and their attached comments, the nearly 50 emails that were sent from our website, as well as many private emails sent by members.

We’d like to thank council member Rachel Hundley and Mayor pro tem Amy Harrington for making their best efforts in support of a dispensary.

For anyone interested, the city council meeting video can be seen here.
Both the cultivation and dispensary issue Comments/discussions/presentations occur between 34:50 and 2:49:00.

On a personal note regarding the dispensary issue – My last comment to the city council was, “Let’s have a heart. Let’s put the physical and emotional welfare of those most in need above misdirected concerns and old stigmas. A city is not a machine, but a living body. It doesn’t need mechanics to keep an eye on operation, it needs sustenance to grow and progress. City governments owe it to their citizens to do everything they can to empower them.”

And with that, they promptly drove a stake through the heart of compassion with a simple “nay.”

So yes, many will say vote them out come November. Fine, we’ll all vote. But, it really shouldn’t have come to that.

The Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group would like to thank everyone who joined our group, signed the petition, made comments, wrote letters, and made phone calls in the effort to make safe local access a reality.

For now, it’s time to reassess the situation.

Thanks again,

Gil Latimer
Ken Brown
Jewel Mathieson
Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group