Cannabis group: Sonoma City Council got played

It’s time for us to catch up on the current state of cannabis in Sonoma and the lower Valley. It won’t be until later in April that the one and only dispensary, sparc, owned by Erich Pearson, will finally open in Sonoma.

And it may be the only dispensary in town for oh, let’s say two, or maybe even 3 years. Why would that be, you ask? Didn’t we convince the city to revise its cannabis ordinance to permit two walk-in dispensaries one year ago this April?

Well, yes, we did. And had the new Request for Proposal (RFP) calling for new applicants been released late last summer, we’d be well on the road to having that second dispensary.

But, a funny thing happened on the way to the objective. On September 8, sparc’s owner, Erich Pearson, stood in front of the city council and misled them about his financial situation. Pearson told the city council that he had to close 2 shops in SF because he “couldn’t pay the bills”, and he was facing a 1.2 million dollar rebuild. He did not, however, disclose that he was preparing to open a new dispensary and consumption lounge on Polk Street in San Francisco. Poor on the one hand, prosperous on the other?

Mr Pearson pleaded poverty and asked the city council to delay the RFP for another *year* to allow sparc to gather 12 months’ worth of data. This would show “how viable the business is and see if the city can sustain another business.” Two months after making his plea to the city council, it agreed to table the RFP until the end of 2022.

The notion that a city must find out how profitable any business is before allowing another of the same type to open is patently ridiculous. This is done for no other business, not a liquor store, a pharmacy, a food market, certainly not for a wine tasting bar.  In a free market, it is the *market* that decides which businesses survive or fail.

And why do we say that Pearson mislead the city council back in September? Because, despite his financial woes, he just opened a brand spankin’ new dispensary/lounge on Polk Street in San Francisco. Guess he’s not doing as bad as he’d like everyone to think.

The Sonoma City Council has been played – big time. It fell for his ploy. And in doing so, it is now supporting a “de jure monopoly” that not only deprives medical patients and consumers a competitive market that could provide them with better prices and a larger variety of products, but also helps protect the black market.

It’s time for the Sonoma City Council to issue the RFP.

— Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group


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