The Story Part 1: A Small California Town and the Politics of Cannabis

We’d like to share our story of the city of Sonoma and the politics of local control. It is currently being posted in episodic fashion across multiple social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, X/Twitter, YouTube and here at the SVCG web site.Here is the first episode of our little mini-series:

This is the story of a small California town and the politics of cannabis. To some, it may read familiar. For others, it might be illuminating or instructive. It’s a story about conflicted interests, cronyism, and regulatory capture. It’s a story about lobbyists and the friends of lobbyists. It’s a story about bad faith operators and those who finance them. This is a story about a lot of things, and it’s going to take awhile to tell.

After 5 long years of argument, not always without scandal, the city of Sonoma had finally come to permit 2 walk-in retail cannabis dispensaries.


A second retail outlet would greatly improve service to the 45,000 people living in Sonoma and the Sonoma Valley. Competition can provide folks here with easy, safe access to more product choice, better services, etc. Everyone wins, the city, medical patients, and adult consumers.

So, all sounds good, right? It’s not.

The residents of the city of Sonoma continue to be denied reasonable access to medical and recreational cannabis. By reasonable, we mean what you might expect to be sensible and fair.

Let’s identify just some of the people and groups and their roles in this ongoing saga.

Erich Pearson, CEO of Responsible Patient Care, Inc. AKA SPARC, currently owns five dispensaries in the Bay Area. He owns the one and only operating dispensary in our city.

Emily Paxhia, Managing Partner of Poseidon Asset Management, LLC. – her firm is a key investor in SPARC. She also has a percentage interest in the SPARC Sonoma store.

The CITY OF SONOMA City Council, which for various reasons, has delayed the release of an RFP for a second dispensary.

The Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group, a prominent advocate for fair cannabis policy in the city of Sonoma.

Sonoma’s ordinance permits two dispensaries. However, the Sonoma City Council and the owner of the city’s lone operating dispensary and his partners continue to stand together in denying the will of the voters.

For the past year and ½ since he opened his store, Mr. Pearson has enjoyed a monopoly of service in Sonoma. He has no real competition.

Among Mr. Pearson’s questionable efforts to maintain this stranglehold on the local market, he recently slandered our advocacy group in public, in front of the City Council. He alleged that the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group has taken money from an unidentified outside source. This is wholly untrue. SVCG is an unincorporated non-profit association formed for the public benefit. We do not now, nor have we ever, received any funding from any source.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this account, this is a long story that must be told over time and it will all unspool in due course. Let’s just end this short introductory chapter with a video of Erich Pearson slandering the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group in front of the Sonoma City Council.

But wait – there’s more. As they say, watch this space…

hashtag#boycottsparc hashtag#cannabisindustry hashtag#cannabiscommunity

Part 6: No Dispensary for You! Cont…

Our previous post featured two Sonoma city Council members arguing over a possible conflict of interest regarding a second dispensary in the city. Here now, the discussion continues.Though the city council finally voted to...

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