Did You Know?…

Did You Know?…

From Josette Brose-Eichar, SVCG Policy Group member:

Did you know that they city of Sonoma’s cannabis ordinance was updated in 2021 to allow and license a second dispensary?

Did you know the present Sonoma city council placed putting the second dispensary out for bid in its 5 month plan in January of 2023?

Did you know that starting the process to move forward on a second dispensary, it very likely to be on the Sonoma City council agenda of April 3 or 19?

We have positive momentum to get this done, but we must show the city council that is what we want as a community. 20 e-mails will do it. 5 or 6 members of this groups speaking at the council meeting when the second dispensary is on the agenda, will do it. Don’t let this time and this opportunity pass us by.

Write to the mayor and each city council member individually, it will have more impact and will assure that you are heard. It is easy, just change who it is to each time. I have found when I send e-mails to each individual council member, I am more likely to get a responses and the attention of the city council.

To get you started here are all the city council members and their e-mail addresses.

Jack Ding, Council Member



Patricia Farrar-Rivas, Council Member



John Gurney, Vice Mayor



Sandra Lowe, Mayor



Ron Wellander, Council Member


Try this out for size. Change it up, tell your story and your viewpoint.

Dear Mayor_____

Or Dear Vice Mayor__________

Or Dear Council Member _______________

I am writing today to thank you for placing moving forward on the process to put a second cannabis dispensary in your 5 month goals for 2023. Placing this on the agenda for an April 2023 city council meeting, will be the first step and I urge you not to delay.

With everything learned from permitting the first dispensary, SPARC, the process will be much less complicated this time. I am sure there will be several interested applicants once the RFP goes out.

By moving forward there will be substantial benefits to the city of Sonoma and community members:

(Or choose to write about some of these benefits.)

Increased tax revenue to the city

Well paid jobs

More consumer choice

More completion resulting in better pricing

And last supporting local growers and businesses




Former Sonoma Mayor Ken Brown asks Valley residents to email City Council

“I want to encourage you to contact city hall and gently, but forcefully, lean on them to get it on the agenda for the first meeting in April.”

Nothing is ever perfect. We only do the best we can. We’re made of hopes and dreams and the stage is ours, until it’s not. No matter the fear of shouts and jeers, we must always do our best for what’s true and right.

Please send an email to the Sonoma City Council in support of a second dispensary.


On the Radio

Sat in on Leslie Hennessy’s KSVY radio show, featuring wine and cannabis cultivator Mike Benziger of Glentucky Family Farms in Glen Ellen. I mentioned who SVCG is and what we’ve accomplished: the city’s first dispensary, latest news on a possible second dispensary and why competition is good for the city, patients, and adult users alike. Mike agrees, “there’s plenty of room for a second dispensary in town”. I mentioned how much the city has made in tax revenue so far, and Mike added he could see that revenue doubling with a second dispensary.

There was also talk of cannabis tourism, and the plight of the legacy small farmers, many of whom are going out of business due to over regulation/taxation.

All in all, a good show. This edited version is 13 minutes long.

2nd Dispensary for Sonoma?

2nd Dispensary for Sonoma?

As you can see in these photos, city council members were tasked by the interim city manager to draw up a list of goals/priorities they felt should be included in a five-year, one year, and five-month plan. The goals reflect a vision of the city’s future and guide decision-making at all levels of City government.

We are happy to say that the council included issuing the RFP for a second dispensary on its list of priorities to accomplish within the next five months.

A huge thanks to Josette Brose-Eichar, Dave Eichar, Perri Ellis Paniagua, and Richard Silver for their support and leadership and speaking at this meeting. Also, thanks to Robert Demler, Executive Director of the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation, for voicing his support, and Mark Bodenhamer, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for offering his assistance to facilitate the second dispensary process. Their voices brought additional validity to our goal.

We had front row seats directly across from council members, staff, the police and fire chiefs, etc., and one after another, down the line, we all made a case for the second dispensary. Some extra credit goes to Richard Silver for a brilliant bit of off-the-cuff oratory which I’ll always remember.

There is something more personal about sitting across the table from someone as opposed to standing at a podium talking to people on a dais. We’re all on the same level, all feet firmly grounded. I do think we made a very favorable impression. I also believe that had we not been at that meeting and spoken, we probably wouldn’t have made that five month’s goal list.

Two council members put us over the top. Former chief of police and now vice-mayor, John Gurney, put the dispensary on his five-month list, quipping, “I put this on my list because I’m tired of hearing about it.” That brought a good laugh to the room.

And as she ran down her five-month list, Councilwoman Patricia Farrar-Rivas looked at us, smiled and said, let’s issue the RFP.

We are still waiting for the video of the Goals meeting to be posted. Annual Goals meetings regard the future of the city. Citizens should always have the opportunity to review how such important decisions are made.

Nothing ever moves quickly and the devil is always in the details, but we feel very optimistic that our medical patients and consumers in Sonoma and the Valley will finally be able to take advantage of local competition. Competition will help keep prices down, result in the availability of a wider variety of products, and promote innovation in services. Stay tuned, more details to come…

Email #2 to the City Council

Email #2 to the City Council

Dear Mayor Lowe, Vice Mayor Gurney and Council Members,

I would like to welcome our new city council members and congratulate our new mayor.

I have been involved for the last few years in working to get a cannabis dispensary in the Sonoma Valley. In the beginning, I advocated for two dispensaries to be permitted and the consultants hired by the city, HDL, agreed. They stated that the city and the valley could easily support two. In the end one, SPARC, was permitted. But, in working very hard with the last city council, the ordinance was changed to permit a second dispensary.

I am writing, because now is the time to move forward and begin the process to issue a permit to a second dispensary applicant.

For me it is a bit personal. I use a product that has been a life saver. In the beginning SPARC, our one dispensary told me they would carry products other than what they currently do, if requested. I tried and no they will not carry my product, unless I buy it by the case. I am still driving to Santa Rosa. But, beyond the personal, there are so many benefits to having a second dispensary in Sonoma. Looking at SPARC’s numbers they have been incredibly successful financially, and the city is benefiting from the taxes and economic benefits they provide. The city will benefit and the community will benefit greatly by moving forward with permitting a second dispensary.

Economic theory demonstrates that when firms have to compete for customers, it leads to lower prices, higher quality goods and services, greater variety, and more innovation. Competition thus stimulates growth and generates substantial benefits for the community.

While the cannabis industry is a challenging one for all operators across the supply chain (cultivators, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, etc.), retailers with strong business acumen are running profitable operations and will continue to do so.

The economic pie is growing. It is safe to assume that an additional dispensary would create an increase in revenue for Sonoma, as it would be impossible for one dispensary to capture 100% of the market. Additionally, the market is seeing year-over-year growth, so it’s definitely not a zero-sum game. Well-run dispensaries continue to experience growth despite an increase in competition.

According to local industry experts, there would be a number of applicants for a second dispensary permit. Typically, limited license jurisdictions like Sonoma are receiving significant interest in demand for licenses if/when they become available. There are many examples across the state for this (i.e. Cotati, Sausalito, Healdsburg, Concord, Fairfield, etc.).

The increased demand for cannabis solutions requires greater accessibility to a variety of products. However, not all dispensaries carry all products and limiting ready, local access to medication impedes individuals from obtaining the necessary provisions for their health and well-being. In the case of SPARC, they are vertically integrated, with an emphasis on selling the products they grow and manufacture. We really need product choice, and responsiveness to consumer’s needs.

Please agendize moving forward on putting out at RFP for another dispensary. It will be a great benefit to the community and to the city.


Josette Brose-Eichar

Opening Email to City Council

Opening Email to City Council

This is a first of several emails to be sent in the next 3 weeks regarding the second dispensary process. It outlines the primary reasons why the city should issue the Request for Proposal (RFP).

Sonoma City Council

No. 1 The Plaza

Sonoma, CA 95476

January 5, 2023

Re: Placing Second Cannabis Dispensary on Agenda

Dear Mayor Lowe, Vice Mayor Gurney and Council Members,

On behalf of the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group, we are writing once again to communicate our strong interest in the process to permit a second cannabis dispensary. In support of that, we offer the following:

1) According to city records, in its first 8 months of operation, Sparc’s gross receipts amount to $2,894,355.41, from which the city of Sonoma received $115,774.22 in Cannabis Business Tax.

2) Sparc has incurred no negative impacts on the safety, health and welfare of Valley citizens.

3) Sparc has had ample time to establish itself as a viable business. Assuming the city issues the RFP for a second dispensary in the first quarter of 2023, that store may not open until the first quarter of 2024, by which time Sparc will have been in operation a full two years.

4) Sonoma’s cannabis consultant HdL noted that the city could support two retailers.1

5) The city council understands that permitting a wide variety of retail stores in Sonoma attracts both locals and visitors. The city council has never restricted an individual or group from opening a retail shop in any business category, whether it’s pharmacies, groceries, clothing or book stores.

Understanding that city staff has already generated the RFP and the associated documents, we respectfully request that the city council, at the earliest possible time, place an item on the Agenda to consider, discuss and act to begin the Request for Proposal Process.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have and we thank you for your time and attention.

Best Regards,

SVCG Executive/Policy Committee


1HdL Companies (August 21, 2018), “Elections Code Section 9212 Report Regarding an Initiative Measure to Permit Personal Cannabis Cultivation and Commercial Cannabis Businesses within the City of Sonoma”, City of Sonoma Agenda Item Summary.