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