Letter to the Editor

Mar 9, 2018 — A response to ‘Pipe Dreams’ article
Posted on March 7, 2018 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Thanks to Jonah Raskin for his article, “Pipe dreams: Will Sonoma miss out on the marijuana boom?”, (Feb. 23, 2018).

However, I would like to put a finer point on a couple of items.

I am a former member of the Sonoma County Growers Alliance and currently belong to the local chapter of the California Cannabis Industry Association. I formed the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group to help former mayor Ken Brown and the city of Sonoma realize a permitted medicinal dispensary within the city limits. SVCG currently has 189 members and continues to grow.

That Sonoma could be home to a $50 million-dollar-a-year business may be a bit overblown. Based on figures supplied by California’s Board of Equalization, in 2016 each marijuana dispensary license brought in an average of $562,093, gross. That still represents a substantial amount of tax revenue for the city.

As far as wine and cannabis getting along, both are realizing that they can exist to mutual benefit. The “Wine and Weed Symposium”, held in Santa Rosa this past August, served as an ice-breaker for the two industries. Both understand that they share common opportunities ranging from designating appellations to courting tourists. I very much doubt recreational cannabis will have any real impact on wine sales.

It is the case that there is some backbiting within the cannabis industry, but what industry doesn’t include that?

Regarding quotes attributed to me, just to straighten the record a little more, Ken Brown recused himself from city council discussions around a dispensary six years ago based on bad advice from an attorney.

The only defense I have for the city of Sonoma and this issue is that Sonoma has no choice but to go through the same ordinance process every other city has. Otherwise, up to this point, it has done no good service for its residents, especially patients.

As far as Mr. Early’s complaint that he doesn’t seem to be trusted is concerned, perhaps there are reasons for that, perhaps not. But, the standards for permitting any cannabis business within the city of Sonoma will be very stringent. There will soon be other interested parties and he will have to get in line with everyone else.

– Gil Latimer, Sonoma


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