A Hollow Victory
This sidebar once declared in its headline, “Success!”. And it was true at the time. After 4 long years of cajoling and discussion, the city of Sonoma had finally come to permit 2 walk-in retail cannabis dispensaries.
Unfortunately, though the first dispensary has been open for a year now, its owner, Erich Pearson of sparc, along with his Strategic Advisor and part owner of the Sonoma shop, Amy O’Gorman Jenkins, have been lobbying the city to stop the process for a second dispensary.
On September 8, 2021, Pearson told the city council that he had to close 2 shops in San Francisco 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?
The result was that the city council voted to support what amounts to a city-sponsored monopoly and that for the foreseeable future, Mr.Pearson will not face any competition that would provide medical patients with better prices, more product choices, and additional services.
Ms Jenkins, who runs her own lobbying firm, Precision Advocacy, and is also the Legislative Advocate for the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA), is a native to Sonoma. Her ties to the local community afford her a unique position to influence local policy. She was a contributor to the campaigns of cannabis-friendly candidates Rachel Hundley in 2018 and Sandra Lowe in 2021. Most recently, Ms. Lowe appointed Ms. Jenkins to the local Planning Commission.
Appearances are everything. Contributions can create avenues for corruption, either grand or petty. Cronyism and favors to rig a market are unacceptable.
We thank everyone in this group and on our mailing list for their support, for signing the petition, for writing the letters and contributing to the discussions.
Thanks to Ken Brown and Jewel Mathieson for their years of advocacy for patients’ access to safe, legal medical cannabis. Their goal of local access has finally been realized.
And thanks to our past city council allies Amy Harrington and Logan Harvey for leaning forward on this issue. They helped define Sonoma as a city of progressive values in Sonoma County.
In the meantime, the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group will continue to keep you informed on all the latest developments in 2022.