Long time advocate Ken Brown recovering

Long time advocate Ken Brown recovering

By his permission, we’d like everyone to know that our good friend Ken Brown is currently recovering from a recent seizure. As you can see by the photo, he sends all a message of peace.

We could say he is in fair spirits, but he would certainly appreciate an encouraging message in a card or note from any of us. He’s currently in residence here in town at Broadway Villa and can be reached at

Ken Brown c/o Broadway Villa Post Acute

1250 Broadway

Sonoma, CA 95476

Ken’s family is very involved in his recovery and we’re optimistic that he’ll soon land on his feet. 🙂🙏

23 to watch in 2023: Eli Melrod, CEO of Solful

23 to watch in 2023: Eli Melrod, CEO of Solful

Eli Melrod and Solful continue to outshine the competition at nearly every turn…

Says Mike Benziger, founder of Glentucky Family Farm in Sonoma Valley:

“Most dispensaries want to control the farming. They want to control the distribution. But Eli had a different formula and saw that Solful could prosper by focusing relentlessly on the customer and then developing employees that became experts.”

We know Mike Benziger, founder of Benziger Family Wineries and the Glentucky cannabis farm. He has spoken to the city council in support of a second dispensary in the past. His comment in the PD that most dispensaries would rather control all their own cultivation and distribution (vertical integration) is pointed.

All those legacy family farms in our own backyard, in Mendocino, Humbolt, Trinity and Sonoma Counties, many of which have existed for generations, are struggling mightily under incredibly outrageous taxation and regulation by the State. Some have been forced out of business entirely and many others are on the verge of losing everything.

Solful and sparc are competitors in Sebastopol. Solful is intent on supporting those smaller farmers as best it can by sourcing its wares from them.

sparc on the other hand is vertically integrated. It cultivates the vast majority of its own product and oversees its production from seed to harvest to packaging. That doesn’t do much to help the little guy.

And you know what? There is nothing wrong with pointing out differences between X and Y. That largely doesn’t work for business owners, who should always frame competition as manageable, highlight their positives to suggest competitor shortcomings, discover the most effective ways to differentiate from competitors, emphasize their dynamic product lines, and become thought leaders on industry evolution. Some businesses do these things better than others.

But, that’s not our job. Besides advocating for reasonable access to medical cannabis, we’re here to report, evaluate and assess what’s happening in our little sphere of influence. We’re not interested in taking a kumbaya, go along to get along road for the sake of expediency. Bottom line, it matters little if you’re Mercy Wellness or sparc or Solful or Jane’s or any of the other 30+ retail dispensaries in Sonoma County – the truth is the truth.

Solful recognized for positive impact on community…

Solful recognized for positive impact on community…

Congrats to Eli Melrod’s Solful for being recognized by the North Bay Business Journal as one of seven companies making a positive difference in their communities. “Solful regularly collaborates with both North Bay and national philanthropic organizations to donate a portion of monthly sales to that said charity.
“For example, Solful partnered with the Sebastopol Center for the Arts and donated $1 from each sale during the month of September. They had a similar partnership with the San Franciscso Women’s Cancer Network during the month of October.“

It’s a pretty level playing field when it comes to demonstrating social responsibility in the local cannabis retail sector. When one of your main competitors keeps garnering positive press and awards, you ought to be asking yourself what are you doing wrong. Or, what are you not doing right. Social responsibility is an ethical framework for conducting best business practice and taking actions that benefit your community.

Practicing social responsibility brings competitive advantages: increased sales/profits, improved productivity and quality, improved brand image and reputation, employee satisfaction, and enhanced customer loyalty. The better a company understands the principle, the more successful it will be.

SVCG Introduction to City Council Candidates

SVCG Introduction to City Council Candidates

Hi All,

Prior to the upcoming Meet the Candidates night at the Sonoma Community Center (Oct 10, 5:30-7 PM), we have sent an introduction letter to all 5 candidates.

SVCG Logo for Email Header


October 4, 2022

Hello (Candidate Name),

This is Gil Latimer, founder of the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group, located in the city of Sonoma. SVCG is a 200+ member group of cannabis patients, consumers, advocates and industry professionals. Over the past five years, our team has worked closely with the Sonoma City Council to provide patients and consumers in the city of Sonoma and the Lower Valley access to cannabis.

We are reaching out to you because, as a candidate for the Sonoma City Council, you’re probably interested in the particulars of our local cannabis issue. Hopefully, the information we provide will help inform your decision on moving the second dispensary process forward.

Sonoma now has an ordinance that permits two dispensary storefronts. It also has its Application Guidelines and Procedures and new RFP documents ready to go. However, in keeping with the issue’s history of being kicked down the road, the process for permitting a second dispensary has stalled.

We’d like to remind that Proposition 64 was supported by 62% of Sonoma voters, more than any of the other county’s cities, or the county itself. Also, the Sonoma Index-Tribune’s own survey found that about 64 percent of the more than 150 respondents were in favor of one or more dispensaries in town. “Of those in favor of dispensaries, only 11 percent felt a mere one dispensary was sufficient – many citing the need for competition to keep prices down.”

We’d also like to explain why permitting a second dispensary is so important. Without competition, everyone is at a disadvantage, our patients, responsible adult consumers, and the city itself. Competition improves our standard of living. It keeps prices low and raises the quality and choice of goods and services. What if there was only one pharmacy in our community? What if there was only one coffee shop or one tax preparer in town?

Without competition, any provider operating locally is able to set higher prices without fear, because its closest competitors are in Cotati and Santa Rosa. This is especially unfair to medical patients. The battles faced daily by those who depend on cannabis to manage their medical issues shouldn’t be minimized. Forcing those most in need of relief to travel many miles or pay extra delivery fees for products that may not be available from a single provider creates economic hardship within two of our most important communities, our seniors and veterans.

Product availability is a real issue. Patients with chronic or life-threatening illnesses need access to the widest choice of products possible to meet their medical needs. Unfortunately, inventories at dispensaries can range widely from shop to shop. They don’t all carry the same products or brands, and their availability can even differ from one visit to the next.

Limiting choice is not what compassionate care is about.

There are several reasons why an additional dispensary will contribute to the city and the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens.

Dispensaries create tax revenue. The city’s consultant, HdL, estimated that between $250,000 and $500,000 could be generated for Sonoma. Aside from tax revenue, it also noted that for every $1 spent at a cannabis retailer, an additional $3 in economic benefit goes to the host city or county. The city should see a comparable economic gain from cannabis.

Dispensaries create jobs. Not only do they provide good-paying, safe, family-and-community sustaining employment, they support ancillary businesses that don’t touch the product, like bookkeepers, tax preparers, personnel services, facilities maintenance and more. The jobs in cannabis are also year-round, not seasonal like those in hospitality. It is better for the economy of Sonoma to have another dispensary, than another restaurant, tasting room, or hotel.

The dispensary permit also requires the business to provide “community benefits”. For example, the city could form a dedicated foundation to provide cash grants to local nonprofits or be directed toward the city’s most needy residents and projects. It could provide support for local food pantries, or help fund SOS’s shelter services for the homeless, or improve wildfire protection/emergency services. A second dispensary even benefits the air we breathe by virtue of fewer miles traveled beyond city limits.

Past and present city council members have voted to permit an additional walk-in dispensary. That is the legacy of nearly five years of hard work by patients, consumers, advocates, and the city. This has been the democratic process in action and we continue to encourage the city council to fulfill that commitment and move the second dispensary process forward without unnecessary delay.

We thank you for your time and consideration and wish you the best in your campaign. And of course, the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group is always at the ready to answer any questions you may have.

Best Regards,

The SVCG Policy Group


Cannabis: Consumer Health and Wellness Concerns

Cannabis: Consumer Health and Wellness Concerns

This is a message that needs to be repeated over and over again in some quarters. We’ve forwarded this to the Sonoma City Council as a reminder that patients should not be restricted to only one retail outlet in the middle of a cannabis desert.

Dear City Council and Staff,

A recent article published by Forbes highlights a new study conducted by The Harris Poll which shows that a majority of cannabis consumption is attributable to consumers’ desires to address health and wellness concerns. It’s important to note that there are many ways to consume cannabis safely, and many formulations actually have minimal intoxicating effects.

The increased demand for cannabis solutions requires greater accessibility to a variety of products. However, not all dispensaries carry all formulations and limiting ready, local access to medication impedes individuals from obtaining the necessary provisions for their health and well-being.

Key takeaways:

• An overwhelming majority (91%) of adults 21 years old and over, consume cannabis for health and wellness purposes.
• 75% said they would prefer holistic solutions over pharmaceuticals to treat a medical issue when possible.
• 62% of people say prefer to use cannabis rather than pharmaceuticals to treat a medical issue.
• 88% of those who have consumed cannabis as an alternative and/or in addition to pharmaceutical treatments feel that doing so has improved their overall well-being.
• Moreover, 86% of those who have used cannabis for health or wellness would recommend cannabis to a friend or family member for medical reasons.

The Forbes article, “Sorry, Stoners: Most Cannabis Users Do So For Health And Wellness, Says New Study”, can be seen here.

The complete results of the survey can be viewed here.


Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group

Living in a Cannabis Desert

Living in a Cannabis Desert

All politics is local. Decisions made by city councils, mayors and commissioners have a direct and immediate impact on the lives of residents in their communities.

Per California’s DCC, 56 percent of cities and counties prohibit the licensing of all cannabis business types.

An even greater fraction, 62 percent, don’t permit retailers specifically, which would theoretically increase demand for unlicensed sales for people unwilling or unable to travel to a different part of the state for marijuana.

The city of Sonoma serves as an example of limited access. Taking the wide view, it’s difficult not to feel that we are being held hostage in the middle of a cannabis desert with only one small well.

17 dispensaries in Santa Rosa. 6 in Napa.

1 dispensary in Sonoma.

Can’t find a product at one outlet in SR? You have 16 other options.

Can’t find what you need in Sonoma?

Sonoma to Santa Rosa – 60-80 minutes round trip
Sonoma to Cotati – 60 minutes round trip
Sonoma – Napa – 50 minutes round trip

Throw in the time you spend online or on the phone, time spent in store, and don’t forget to add the price of gas, or the price of delivery charge…