Yes on Measure Y

Yes on Measure Y

Hello everyone. The following is not an official position of SVCG. I cannot speak for all our members. But, as an advocate for patient access to medicinal cannabis, I think it’s important to help voters understand Measure Y.

On one hand, Measure Y removes nearly all of the city’s control over cannabis businesses. The city had already put an ordinance in place that allowed for a limited number of such businesses and its regulations were arguably reasonable.

On the other hand, Measure Y removes the barriers to opening cannabis businesses in the city, treating them as any other legitimate businesses seeking to operate in Sonoma. Its free market approach brings more choices and competitive prices to customers.

Originally, because the city council and staff made good effort to finally bring safe, local access to Sonoma, I supported its opposition to the Measure.

However, as I said, the city’s current regulations are “arguably reasonable” and this became more apparent as I received significant, well-reasoned, push-back from some in the cannabis industry. This lead me to take a neutral position.

Now, unfortunately, due to a very complicated and embarrassing turn of events, the dispensary process is suddenly in limbo, with no path to recovery of which we’re aware.

People are disappointed in the city council. They are frustrated and angry that all the progress made after three long years has stalled. If they can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, many will decide it’s time to cut and run and vote for Measure Y. And who can blame them?

Though I felt a certain loyalty to the council for passing an ordinance, ultimately, my loyalty is to all those who rely on medicinal cannabis. Patients and their welfare have been the core of my 30-year support for medical use, just as it has been for local advocates Jewel Mathieson and Ken Brown.

A choice must be made. The city’s current process is overly complex, restrictive and expensive. It cost its citizens a lot of money with nothing to show for it, so far. It’s time to consider cannabis businesses like any other legal business.

I’m going to support Measure Y.

The passage of Y is far from a sure bet. If it fails, it will be up to the city council to do its best to fast-track a reasonable solution for resurrecting the process.

If Y passes, it will fall to council to seek to amend it in ways that mitigate some of its issues without violating its spirit.

Buzz kill: Council walks back on Sparc pot dispensary

Buzz kill: Council walks back on Sparc pot dispensary

Uncertainty was interjected into Sonoma’s cannabis future this week when the Sonoma City Council failed to approve negotiated terms for a commercial dispensary license for Sparc, the Santa Rosa-based cannabis cultivation and sales company chosen to be Sonoma’s sole dispensary.

Less than half an hour into its Oct. 5 meeting, the city council cast doubt on its own selection process and halted forward progress on its effort to license a cannabis dispensary before the Nov. 3 vote on Measure Y. That signature-driven petition circulated in 2018 to allow multiple cannabis dispensaries in Sonoma with no city council oversight.

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Cannabis initiative finally comes to voters

Cannabis initiative finally comes to voters

On Nov. 3, City of Sonoma voters will consider Measure Y, the “Personal Cannabis Cultivation Initiative.” If it passes with a simple majority, Measure Y would revise the city Municipal Code to “permit personal cannabis cultivation on all residential properties,” and also permit the “establishment and operation of cannabis businesses within the City, including commercial cultivation, manufacturing, retail, delivery, distribution, testing, and special events.”

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“Another Measure Y supporter is former city councilmember Ken Brown, who has been advocating for cannabis deregulation in Sonoma for 20 years.”… “No one’s saying you can only have one tasting room, one gas station, one bank – we live in America; and as a capitalist system, competition is good,” said Brown.”

  • On the face of it, a legitimate argument. Fear is still a driving force in hindering the industry.

“That’s not how the cannabis business economy works,” said Michael Coats, who at one time worked with Early on Measure Y and was an ardent supporter. “You want to divide up the pie? It’s still a pie.” Coats, who handles some public relations for Sparc, is a cosigner on the city’s rebuttal to the arguments in favor of Measure Y, along with former winemaker Mike Benziger, who supplies bio-dynamic cannabis to Sparc.”

  • There is some merit to that. If there is anyone out there with a better grasp of economics, please rebut.

“Councilmember Amy Harrington, one of the two councilmembers on the city’s cannabis ad hoc committee, said the process was moved forward by the inevitability of Measure Y. “Part of our thinking was that we wanted to make sure a dispensary had been approved by the city, prior to the election, so voters would know that Measure Y wasn’t the only option.

“We selected someone; this is happening.”

  • The City Council would like voters to know that it now has regulations in place and that a dispensary is on track to open soon.

“Vice Mayor Rachel Hundley added another concern over the passage of Measure Y. ‘It appears it would supersede the city’s ordinance and process, so our plans to move forward with a storefront dispensary and conduct additional selection processes for a local delivery business, testing facility, and culinary manufacturer would be prohibited,’ said Hundley.”

  • The passage of Y might end the city’s current plans, but it would make it easier to open a cannabis business in the city. There are the caveats, however. Outdoor cultivation may become unpermissable and there would be no opportunity for local input and oversight regarding businesses’ impacts on the community and the environment.

There is, however, a lot of backstory to this issue and we may get into them in subsequent posts.

In the meantime, we encourage you to view our page of specifics on Measure Y here or on the City of Sonoma’s website here.