Cannabis initiative finally comes to voters

On Nov. 3, City of Sonoma voters will consider Measure Y, the “Personal Cannabis Cultivation Initiative.” If it passes with a simple majority, Measure Y would revise the city Municipal Code to “permit personal cannabis cultivation on all residential properties,” and also permit the “establishment and operation of cannabis businesses within the City, including commercial cultivation, manufacturing, retail, delivery, distribution, testing, and special events.”

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“Another Measure Y supporter is former city councilmember Ken Brown, who has been advocating for cannabis deregulation in Sonoma for 20 years.”… “No one’s saying you can only have one tasting room, one gas station, one bank – we live in America; and as a capitalist system, competition is good,” said Brown.”

  • On the face of it, a legitimate argument. Fear is still a driving force in hindering the industry.

“That’s not how the cannabis business economy works,” said Michael Coats, who at one time worked with Early on Measure Y and was an ardent supporter. “You want to divide up the pie? It’s still a pie.” Coats, who handles some public relations for Sparc, is a cosigner on the city’s rebuttal to the arguments in favor of Measure Y, along with former winemaker Mike Benziger, who supplies bio-dynamic cannabis to Sparc.”

  • There is some merit to that. If there is anyone out there with a better grasp of economics, please rebut.

“Councilmember Amy Harrington, one of the two councilmembers on the city’s cannabis ad hoc committee, said the process was moved forward by the inevitability of Measure Y. “Part of our thinking was that we wanted to make sure a dispensary had been approved by the city, prior to the election, so voters would know that Measure Y wasn’t the only option.

“We selected someone; this is happening.”

  • The City Council would like voters to know that it now has regulations in place and that a dispensary is on track to open soon.

“Vice Mayor Rachel Hundley added another concern over the passage of Measure Y. ‘It appears it would supersede the city’s ordinance and process, so our plans to move forward with a storefront dispensary and conduct additional selection processes for a local delivery business, testing facility, and culinary manufacturer would be prohibited,’ said Hundley.”

  • The passage of Y might end the city’s current plans, but it would make it easier to open a cannabis business in the city. There are the caveats, however. Outdoor cultivation may become unpermissable and there would be no opportunity for local input and oversight regarding businesses’ impacts on the community and the environment.

There is, however, a lot of backstory to this issue and we may get into them in subsequent posts.

In the meantime, we encourage you to view our page of specifics on Measure Y here or on the City of Sonoma’s website here.


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