Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group

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Measure Y – Personal Cannabis Cultivation Initiative

Measure Y Sonoma removes the city’s ability to regulate cannabis businesses within the city. Read the arguments and rebuttals here.


(You can find more in-depth coverage in our top post, here.)


A Yes vote on Measure Y Sonoma would remove Sonoma’s ability to regulate cannabis businesses within the city. The city would be unable to review how any cannabis business operates or fits in a neighborhood. This Measure would largely remove public review and input.

However, Measure Y removes the barriers to opening cannabis businesses in the city, treating them as any other legitimate businesses seeking to establish themselves in Sonoma. It takes a free market approach that brings more choices and competitive prices to customers.

A No vote on Measure Y would enable the city to preserve its current ordinance that allows for a limited number of regulated cannabis businesses. 

However, until the city decides to permit a second dispensary, a No vote would allow one dispensary to operate as a monopoly, denying citizens the choices that free enterprise provides.

Measure Question

Shall the Initiative Measure amending the Municipal Code to permit personal cannabis cultivation on all residential properties and establishment and operation of cannabis businesses within the City, including commercial cultivation, manufacturing, retail, delivery, distribution, testing, and special events be adopted?

What Your Vote Means

A “yes” vote will amend the municipal code. A “no” vote will not amend the municipal code.

For and Against Measure Y


Jon Early

Proponent, Citizens For Local Access

Logan Harvey, Mayor

Rachel Hundley, Vice Mayor

Madolyn Agrimonti, City Council Member

David Cook, City Council Member

Amy Harrington, City Council Member



If approved by a majority of the voters, Measure Y would allow – without having to get permits from the City — the establishment and operation of commercial cannabis businesses, including commercial manufacturing, distribution, cultivation, transportation, testing, retail sales, and delivery of cannabis in all commercial zoning districts in the City. No limitations are set on the number of such businesses that can open in the City. Multiple, unspecified numbers of cannabis businesses can locate on the same parcel. Unless prohibited by the City’s anti-smoking ordinance, consumption of cannabis at retail businesses is permitted. No provision is made for the City or the community to examine and mitigate, in advance of their opening, such businesses’ impacts on the community and the environment.

Other than for temporary special events where cannabis may be sold and consumed, Measure Y does not require submittal of a permit application or create a procedure for the City to accept, review and act on permit applications through a public process, but instead provides that with limited exceptions, the only City approval that is required to open a cannabis business is a “zoning clearance.” A “zoning clearance” is not a permit; it is a statement issued by the Planning Director that a proposed business is located within the correct zoning district and complies with the district’s requirements, such as the building height limit. A “zoning clearance” is issued over the counter and without notice or hearing.

Under Measure Y, operators who were engaged in medicinal cannabis businesses before September 9, 2016, would be entitled to continue or re-commence those operations provided they state that they were operating such businesses in compliance with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and pay the City a fee. The City would be required to issue such an operator a certificate of compliance and allow that business to operate even if the business had violated City laws.

Only those cannabis retailers whose businesses are located in the City would be authorized to deliver cannabis to their City customers; except deliveries from out-of-city businesses would be allowed upon the payment of an enhanced fee.

The measure would permit indoor personal medical cannabis cultivation in all residential districts: unclear whether personal cultivation of adult use cannabis is permitted.  Outdoor personal cultivation is not permitted. Personal cultivation cannot exceed six cannabis plants “per adult”, but Measure Y does not limit the number of “adults” who are permitted to so cultivate. Thus, the number of cannabis plants allowed to be cultivated per residence cannot be determined.  Additionally, Measure Y permits the indoor cultivation of up to 30 cannabis plants on any residential property by caregivers for their patients.

Cannabis businesses must be at least 600′ from schools and City parks, 1000′ from the Plaza, and 250′ from the City library. No buffer is required between a cannabis business and daycare centers or youth facilities.

Measure Y was placed on the ballot by a petition signed by the requisite number of voters.

Jeffrey A. Walter,

City Attorney


Ballot Argument For – Submitted on Behalf of Jon Early

Why not give Sonoma Citizens a choice: competition is a good thing whereas an exclusive cannabis licensed monopoly that corners the market is not. Why not help assure your local access to cannabis if a lone dispensary fails?

Why not consider Measure Y as a tax paying economic engine for Sonoma, something to help balance out the job losses we are experiencing?  Why not exercise your right to vote and bypass the tangle of bureaucracy when it needs to be bypassed?

Measure Y businesses will not go unregulated, they will be fully vetted and regulated by the State of California. Measure Y will not create a runaway string of pot shops, which is surely the argument we will hear from the opposition.  Very few of the commercial properties it would affect will be available or viable when considerations are taken into account: Location, use, access, parking, lot size, etc.  As a matter of fact, the City’s own August 21, 2018 consultant’s report envisioned that only five properties would be viable with passage this initiative.

Further, Urban Renewal on West Napa Street, the northern Gateway into Sonoma, needs to be encouraged. And, it’s not just dispensaries that can help our economic engine: a testing lab, a light manufacturing business and a distributor could all exist symbiotically with employees, tucked away & unseen while helping local growers make ends meet, and all of them paying local taxes.

Four long years ago, two thirds of Sonoma voters were solidly in favor of Prop. 64 to legalize cannabis access and they still are. Two years ago, ten percent of Sonoma voters happily signed this qualified ballot initiative. Please note, Measure Y also allows for residential, indoor cultivation. Now it’s time for voters to decide for themselves and make their wishes clear, once again!

Ballot Argument Against – Submitted on Behalf of the City of Sonoma

Last year, the Sonoma City Council created detailed regulations and an exhaustive process to select seasoned cannabis (marijuana) businesses to open one cannabis retail dispensary and one delivery-only dispensary in city limits. One experienced cannabis business was chosen in August 2020 to open a retail dispensary. This business is expected to open next year after completing a rigorous review process by the Sonoma Planning Commission to ensure safe operations as a good neighbor. In the future, the City’s cannabis policies will allow one delivery-only dispensary, one testing facility, and one culinary manufacturer.

Measure Y reaches too far. Its “one size fits all” approach places no limits on the number of commercial cannabis businesses that may be opened in Sonoma. Measure Y would allow cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, testing, and retail all on one site and/or next door to one another, creating the potential for a “cannabis row” Sonoma.

Measure Y prohibits the City of Sonoma from reviewing the operations of any cannabis business and how it would operate or fit within a neighborhood. Measure Y extensively removes all public review and input. It requires only a staff level review on basic zoning parameters. There would be no public hearings, no environmental review, and no ability for public input on building design, noise, security, fencing, parking, and other operational issues.

Measure Y is poorly written. It is internally inconsistent and ambiguous. For example, the measure appears to prohibit outdoor personal cultivation, but would permit indoor cultivation of up to 30 plants on any residential property by caregivers for patients.

As City Council Members, we have different opinions about cannabis in Sonoma, but we are all unanimously against Measure Y. The initiative is overly broad, confusing, and problematic. With limited restrictions and no opportunities for local input and oversight, Measure Y puts our community and future cannabis businesses at risk. Vote “No” on Measure Y.

Logan Harvey, Mayor
Rachel Hundley, Vice Mayor
Madalyn Agrimonti, Councilmember
David Cook, Councilmember
Amy Harrington, Councilmember

Measure Y – Rebuttal to Argument Against

The undisputed reason Sonoma will have City-allowed cannabis access in 2021 is that 767 frustrated voters, over 10%, signed Measure Y in 2018 after the Council voted to prohibit cannabis entirely, greatly motivating a subsequent counsel to change policies. If Measure Y doesn’t pass, Sonoma will be left with a City-sponsored Cannabis Monopoly: no retail competition, no freedom of choice and no free enterprise, with unduly limited economic growth.

The Council wants you to believe that Measure Y encourages unlimited cannabis businesses; however, the City’s own consultant, in a costly report, identified only five viable properties within Measure Y boundaries. There’s no likelihood of a “cannabis row” as the City would have you believe. They say “The initiative is overly broad, confusing and problematic.” They are confused and want the voters to be confused.

They say Measure Y “requires only a staff level review on basic zoning parameters.” While technically correct, it’s misleading and disingenuous since existing Commercial Zoning guidelines already allow (and do not require a review or Use Permit for) Grocery Stores, Banks, General Retail, Plant Nurseries, Auto Parts, Offices,etc.

They state “the measure appears to prohibit outdoor personal cultivation …” It actually does not prohibit or discuss outdoor cultivation at all, although it does permit indoor cultivation.

Measure Y does not put our community and future cannabis businesses at risk. It does, however, limit bureaucratic opposition and arbitrary decisions; the real reason the City wants to suppress your vote is because it infringes on their unchecked power.

Jon Early
Van Solkov, Happy Traveler Tours
Ken Brown, Former Mayor of Sonoma
Bill Boerum, Healthcare Advocate


Measure Y – Rebuttal to Argument in Favor

Measure Y was designed with the specific goal of primarily benefiting one business, the signatory in favor of the measure. If passed, the author stands to personally benefit by allowing more dispensaries to be opened in Sonoma and to by-pass Sonoma’s public review process that is required of all other businesses.

Yes, the Sonoma voters supported Proposition 64 – the legalization of cannabis. However, Sonomans did not vote for unregulated cannabis businesses. Sonoma has a history of striking a balance on the type and number of businesses that can open in our small town – including restrictions on big box retail and tasting rooms. The City just completed a lengthy process limiting the number of cannabis business operators to respect Sonoma’s unique character.
Measure Y would open the flood gates.

In the City of Sonoma’s recent competitive dispensary approval process, ten cannabis proposals were received and one local professional cannabis business was approved. With the passage of Measure Y, local control and regulation of this new industry is removed. Any cannabis dispensaries could quickly receive a permit from the State and open for business in the City, without review.  Measure Y means no local review of parking, traffic, safety, security, architectural design, and compatibility with neighborhoods. Further, no environmental impacts will be evaluated.

Sonoma already allows cannabis delivery and soon will have a retail dispensary opening in town. Sonoma is not Colorado or Los Angeles; we do not need an unlimited number of cannabis dispensaries to change our community character overnight. Vote “No” on Measure Y.

Logan Harvey, Mayor
Rachel Hundley, Vice Mayor
Mike Benzinger, Farmer, Cannabis Cultivator
Christopher Johnson, Chairman, Design Review Commission
Michael Coats, Cannabis Advocate




 vote for cannabis despensary button



All City Documents Related to

Measure Y

Ballot Measure Y

All Cannabis – Related Announcements

Made By City of Sonoma

August 20, 2020 – November 3, 2017