SVCG sent the following email to both the Sonoma city council and planning commission prior to the Sept 24 city council meeting:
Subject: Why Sonoma’s Elder Population Needs Safe, Local Access to a Cannabis Dispensary
To: Sonoma City Council, Sonoma Planning Commission and staff:
It is well known that cannabis has medical benefit for a variety of health issues. But, it also has preventive qualities. We would like to offer you the following article regarding recent research on the possible benefits of cannabis for learning and memory in older adults.
The article, Marijuana May Boost, Rather Than Dull, the Elderly Brain, can be seen here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/marijuana-may-boost-rather-than-dull-the-elderly-brain/
“The findings raise the intriguing possibility that THC and other “cannabinoids” might act as antiaging molecules in the brain.”
This is an important issue for seniors/boomers who are increasingly turning to cannabis to treat and manage their medical conditions.
“’Because of the public health concern, research has had a very strong focus on marijuana’s effects in adolescence,’ Ware says. But although young people make up the largest group of cannabis users, their rate of use has remained relatively stable over the past decade even as the drug has become increasingly available. Meanwhile use among seniors has skyrocketed as the drug’s stigma has faded. A March study showed that in people aged 50 to 64, marijuana use increased nearly 60 percent between 2006 and 2013. And among adults older than 65, the drug’s use jumped by 250 percent.”
We’ll also offer that, according to the 2010 US census, 30.5% of our city’s population is aged 45 to 64, and 25.0% are 65 years of age or older. In other words, 55% of Sonoma’s population is over the age of 45: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonoma,_California
Consider that many of Sonoma’s elder population exist on a limited income in senior housing. Many of them also no longer have an automobile and rely on friends, family, local taxi cabs and social transportation services to take them shopping, get to doctor appointments and run necessary errands. Travel to the closest dispensaries in Cotati or Santa Rosa is difficult for many, and impossible for some.
Delivery-only is not an appropriate option. A brick-and-mortar dispensary offers a first-hand view of available products and allows patients to consult with knowledgeable staff who can provide recommendations on strains and dosing. In the case of delivery, patients are unable to physically preview the medication to determine which item may best work for them before it arrives at the door. It’s also important to remember that many seniors are concerned with personal safety and are very guarded in who they want knocking on their doors.
Given all of the above, we ask that the City Council and Planning Commission recognize the very reasonable needs of our older population and remove the current roadblock to safe, local access to a cannabis dispensary.
As always, the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group is ready and willing to answer any questions you may have.
and the members of the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group
Hoping folks will email the planning commission on both the outdoor cultivation and dispensary issues. The meeting is Thursday night. Wrote and sent the following yesterday.
To the Planning Commission:
On behalf of the members of the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group and all those within the city of Sonoma who support medical and personal outdoor cannabis cultivation, we thank the Planning Commission for moving forward on this issue.
We would like to remind everyone that the State of California and Sonoma County both allow for medical and/or personal indoor and outdoor cultivation of not more than 6 plants.
To date, the City Council has received at least 29 emails in support of outdoor cultivation from our group alone. We feel certain that others outside of our group have sent similar emails. We have included our original letter (May 2018) to the Council, along with the signatures, at the bottom of this email.
We also point to the very robust discussion thread at Nextdoor Sonoma that was initiated by the Index-Tribune’s Christian Kallan. The last we looked there were 145 postings, the overwhelming majority of which showed strong support for personal outdoor cultivation of cannabis:
On May 28 of this year, the IT published Christian Kallen’s great article on the subject, based on the personal experiences of Sonoma residents who grow their own medication outdoors:
The IT also took a poll asking if Sonoma should allow backyard cannabis plants. The overwhelming majority, just shy of 80%, said yes. Understanding that the IT’s site only allows readers to vote one time, it stated that in its three years of online polling, they couldn’t recall a more lopsided result.
The old arguments against outdoor cultivation are no longer sustainable. Odor can be mitigated, there is no violent crime associated with personal gardens, cannabis doesn’t use any more water than your tomato plants, and fire hazard is much reduced.
In light of all of the above, we ask the Planning Commission to recommend the city allow personal cultivation of 6 plants outdoors for medical/personal use in accordance with State cannabis laws.
The Sonoma Valley Cannabis would like to invite you all to visit our web site at http://www.sonomavalleycannabisgroup.com/. Here you will find more information on both the outdoor cultivation and local dispensary issues. And please take the opportunity to view our comprehensive PowerPoint presentation on compassionate cannabis policy at http://www.sonomavalleycannabisgroup.com/powerpoint-presen…/.
The Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group is always ready and willing to answer any questions you may have. The original letter to the city council, along with signatures, is below.
Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group
The city of Sonoma Planning Commission and City Council will conduct public hearings on a draft ordinance that allows the outdoor cultivation of 3 plants for medicinal or personal use. However, this same draft ordinance also bans dispensaries. We feel that the outdoor provision is a step in the right direction, but find a ban on a dispensary to be unacceptable.
The city has invited public comment on both issues. You can send written comments to the Planning Commission, c/o Sonoma City Hall, No. 1 Plaza, Sonoma, CA 95476 -or- via email to email@example.com, no later than September 13, 2018. Though comments on outdoor personal cultivation apply to citizens residing within the city limits, residents of Sonoma’s surrounding communities should comment with regard to the dispensary issue.
Citizens are also invited to make comments at the Planning Commission’s public hearing, Thursday, September 13, 2018 at the City Council Chambers, 177 1st St. W. at 6:30 PM.
The Planning Commission will then forward its recommendation to the City Council for its consideration. Again, citizens of Sonoma, and in the case of the dispensary issue, also its surrounding communities, are invited to make comments on the issues of personal outdoor cultivation and permitting a dispensary by sending written comments to the City Council, c/o Sonoma City Hall, No. 1 Plaza, Sonoma, CA 95476 -or- via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, no later than September 24, 2018.
The public is also invited to make comments at the City Council’s public hearing on September 24, 2018, at the City Council Chambers, 177 First Street West, at 6:00 p.m..
From the Sonoma City Manager:
The permanent ordinance for cannabis regulations (including personal use and commercial) is going to follow the schedule below:
9/13 – Planning Commission Review (will make a recommendation to Council); agenda posted here: https://sonomacity.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Id=346
9/24 – City Council – Public Hearing and 1st reading of ordinance
10/1 – City Council – 2nd reading of ordinance
Ordinance effective date is 30 days after 10/1.
Publish two times: Tuesday, September 4, 2018 and Friday, September 7, 2018
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
Notice is hereby given that the City Council of the City of Sonoma, at a meeting on September
24, 2018 to be held in the City Council Chambers at 177 First Street West, will conduct a public
hearing on the project described below at 6:00 p.m., or as soon thereafter as the matter may be
Project Description: Consideration of a draft ordinance amending the zoning regulations in Title 19
of the Municipal Code (Development Code) which are applicable to all property located within the
City by establishing: 1) allowances, restrictions, and requirements associated with the personal
cultivation of recreational and medicinal cannabis; and 2) a prohibition on commercial cannabis
activities possibly including a limited exception for delivery of medicinal cannabis.
CEQA: The City Council is expected to find the Project not subject to and is therefore exempt from
the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to any or all of the
following State CEQA Guidelines: 1) Section 15061(b)(3) because it can be seen with certainty that
there is no possibility that the activity in question may have a significant effect on the
environment; 2) Section 15301 (Class 1 exemption) for minor alteration of existing residential
structures; 3) Section 15304 (Class 4 exemption) for minor alteration in condition of land, water,
Public Response Requested: The public is hereby invited to comment by sending written comments to
the City Council, c/o Sonoma City Hall, No. 1 The Plaza, Sonoma, CA 95476 no later than September
24, 2018. Interested persons are also invited to attend the public hearing and address any comments
directly to the City Council. The proposed ordinance and related materials are available for review
at Sonoma City Hall, No. 1 The Plaza, Sonoma, CA 95476. A staff report on the item will normally be
available at City Hall on the Friday prior to the meeting.
The City of Sonoma has, by resolution, adopted the time limits set forth in California Civil
Procedure Section 1094.6. Pursuant to these time limits, should any member of the public seek
judicial review of a decision on the project, such action must be filed no later than the ninetieth
day following the date that the administrative decision becomes final.