Racism and Cannabis?

Racism and Cannabis?

What follows is an e-mail one of our members sent to the Mayor and each Sonoma City Council member today. Our member was prompted to do so after listening to a recent Sonoma County Board of Supervisor’s meeting that included an unprecedented string of racist rants via Zoom, one or more of which were voiced by a person who currently holds two retail cannabis permits in Sonoma County, at locations a few miles outside of the Sonoma city limits (those shops have yet to open, for a variety of reasons).

Knowing that SPARC has pleaded financial hardship as the reason the citizens of Sonoma cannot have a second dispensary, and also knowing that the Sonoma City Council hangs its decision to support SPARC as the only game in town partly based on the speculation that maybe someday another shop may open outside of town, we have to wonder:

Is that permit holder, one who advances hate speech, the type of person that our city council, knowingly or not, should rely on as an excuse not to release the second RFP?

Dear Council Member/ Mayor

I was unable to stay on the county board of supervisors meeting for general comments at the September 12 meeting, as it was running very late and I had a prior commitment. I wanted to speak about the end run around the specific plan by Grup/ Rogal for SDC. Today I listened to this meeting. Public comment during the two agenda items preceding general comments and general comments were riddled with anti-Semitic and some anti LQBTQ hate speech. Though they were cut off, it continued and racist slurs got in anyway. This has now ended Zoom access to BOS meetings for the public to speak. I hope this does not happen for the Sonoma City council. Although it is much easier for us to drive into Sonoma for a meeting than to go to Santa Rosa.

I am writing to you today, because I know who one of the racist speakers is. This speaker was identified as Mr. Loe in some of the calls, but in others fake or no names were used. I know this person is John Loe the owner of the two cannabis dispensaries that have been approved for the unincorporated areas of Sonoma Valley close to the city of Sonoma. I know it was him, because several months ago he called my business phone. He started out trying to sound reasonable, but soon began calling me names and stating that I was a sexual deviant. I hung up on him. I know what his voice sounds like.

You may ask, why is he telling me this, there is nothing I can do about it? My point is this, I will never set foot in a business run by someone like this and many, many others will not either. As a member of the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group, I will be getting the word out and many people will be boycotting these businesses, if and when they open. Just like not spending my money at LeFever Mattson owned businesses, because profits go to anti LGBTQ and anti-women’s rights organizations, I will not be spending my money at a business owned by a known anti-Semite. And I am sure many others will feel the same way.

The city of Healdsburg has approved an ordinance for 2 cannabis dispensaries. HDL advised them, like they advised the city of Sonoma that it can support 2 easily. SPARC is one of 8 who have applied. This shows that SPARC must be in pretty good financial shape if they can open another dispensary in Healdsburg. I will be writing to the Healdsburg city council to let them know what happened here in Sonoma. If SPARC really is having financial difficultly here in Sonoma, how can they have the money to open another dispensary in Healdsburg? And I will also be letting the Healdsburg city council know about the lies that were told by Erich Pearson and his employees. There are many honest and ethical people in the cannabis industry, and I think this should be a factor in choosing who to permit.

I am reaching out to you to ask once again to open up the RFP process for a second dispensary in the city of Sonoma. SPARC is not in a precarious financial situation as they stated to you, as they can easily open dispensaries elsewhere. Consumers do not have a choice in products from SPARC, unless you buy a case of the product. The 2 dispensaries that are supposedly going to open in the unincorporated area are iffy at best and most of us will not be patronizing them, because of who the owner is and what he stands for.


What if?

What if?

Let’s say Sonoma only allowed one grocery store and you were forced to choose between shopping at the very expensive Sonoma Market or driving to Napa or Santa Rosa for cheaper products, or for items not available at the local market. Would this be acceptable to you?

What if the only pharmacy permitted was the CVS at the Marketplace Shopping Center and it didn’t carry the particular brand of OTC medication that works for you? And the next closest CVS was on Kenilworth Drive in Petaluma.

Now, those scenarios may be a bit far-fetched, but they illustrate how limited your selections for the best products, prices and services are as long as the city restricts your freedom of choice.

Sonoma’s ordinance permits two dispensaries. Why do we only have access to one?

Or let’s try another scenario. Your town only permits one wine store and maybe it doesn’t carry your favorite Cab or Sauvignon Blanc. You’d like to have a second shop nearby in town, but local government insists it shouldn’t be an issue because one or 2 more shops will eventually open outside of town. Unfortunately, either or both would necessitate a 40-minute round trip to those locations.

Besides the fact that either location requires more time and gas (and emissions) to visit than would a second shop right in town, you discover that both locations must satisfy about 80 conditions for approval before the county allows them to open – and you’re told that those conditions have yet to be met and it would be impossible to put a time line on when ground might be broken, let alone doors finally opening for business.

As a consumer, how would you feel about this?

SEEWEED – PART ONE – McLovin Farm in Laytonville

SEEWEED – PART ONE – McLovin Farm in Laytonville

Short film (16 minutes) featuring just one of many legacy family cultivators trying to survive in the Emerald Triangle, where some of the best cannabis flower we all enjoy is grown.

Starting at the Mendocino Producers Guild markets in Laytonville, Matt Grimshaw catches up with MPG’s ringleader Traci Pellar and visits McLovin Farm to see their landrace cultivar called Heirloom Pineapple that’s been grown in the same spot, soil to seed, for over 20 years.

They seem like a nice couple, don’t they? Doing their best to provide for the greater good. But, because of insane regulatory policy, including dual-licensing and over-taxation, the impressive legacy of Emerald Triangle family farms, from which so many of the rest of us have benefited from for generations, will only be a memory if the State does not move quickly to help the smaller cultivators recover from financial losses.

“Local Control”, part of the dual-licensing system on which the city of Sonoma relies to protect sparc’s monopoly, not only threatens the livelihoods of smaller cultivators, it helps sustain the illicit market (which Prop 64 was supposed to eradicate) and endangers the health of consumers who have limited or no access to legal products that have been tested for pesticides, harmful contaminants, and mold and mildew.

Why would one choose to turn a blind eye to the injustice of limited access and all the harm it causes, from putting small farms out of business to jeopardizing public health? Why would one try to rationalize how permitting only one dispensary in a service area of 40,000 people makes any kind of sense?

And just a reminder, Sonoma’s disregard for its own citizens is mirrored by roughly two-thirds of local governments across California, folks.

People are getting hurt…

People are getting hurt…

Cannabis has been king in this rural area of northern California. But as prices plummet, communities and business owners are hurting, with no clear solutions in sight. Many blame Proposition 64 for undermining small growers.

This is another very important reason why it is necessary to support a second dispensary in Sonoma, and for that matter, in every jurisdiction across the entire state that is seriously under-served or not served at all.

It’s difficult to understand why some would rather support selfishness, slander and greed, than recognize what “for the greater good” really means. Do not tell us it’s “just politics”. It is not…

“Give Compassion: Every day the average person fights epic battles never told, just to survive.”
– Ken Poirot

Sonoma and Local Control: Strengthens illicit market, keeps prices high

Sonoma and Local Control: Strengthens illicit market, keeps prices high

“The second fatal flaw is local control, or the requirement that cannabis businesses receive permits from both the local jurisdiction and the state. That sounds reasonable. But in practice, it’s led to cannabis retail bans in much of the state.

By allowing municipalities to opt-out of legalization, the state has essentially ceded two-thirds of the market to criminals.
Cannabis is one of California’s great heritage industries, along with wine, technology and entertainment – industries we’ve nurtured and fostered with supportive legislation and regulation.
By right, we should have a robust cannabis market that’s poised to dominate in a post-legalization world. But achieving that will require immediate changes to ensure legal cannabis is more accessible and less expensive for consumers.”

Not only is Sonoma city government supporting protectionism, so are many in the local industry, who talk a good game, but when it comes to standing up for what’s right, choose to remain silent.


Healdsburg will host two retail dispensaries.

Healdsburg will host two retail dispensaries.

In protecting a city-sponsored monopoly, Sonoma refuses to begin the process for its second dispensary.
Healdsburg and Sonoma each have a population of 11,000.

Their “Greater Trade Areas” both account for populations of 40,000-50,000.
The nearest dispensaries outside of the city limits of both are comparable in time+distance.
Both Healdsburg and Sonoma contracted with HdL. HdL advised the city of Sonoma that it could likely support two dispensaries.

Why would a city council choose to ignore the expert opinion of its own consultant and reduce by half the additional options a second dispensary would provide its constituents?

“multistep process that nonetheless is expected to attract 10 or more applicants.”
I’m not sure on what info Healdsburg bases its expectations, perhaps from HdL, the consultant Sonoma employed, but if Healdsburg expects 10 applicants, you can expect much the same in Sonoma. There should be no shortage of interested parties.