A Victory, but…

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 opened last spring, its owner, Erich Pearson of sparc, along with his personal lobbyist, Amy O’Gorman Jenkins, have worked with the Sonoma City Council to stop the process for a second dispensary.

Mr Pearson chose to misrepresent his financial situation to the Sonoma City Council in order to convince it to support what amounts to a city-sponsored monopoly, rather than 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 in 2018 and 2021.

Appearances are everything. Contributions can create avenues for corruption, either grand or petty. Cronyism and favors to rig a market are unacceptable.

Thanks

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.

 

Best Regards,

Gil Latimer

Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group

The Voice for Cannabis in Sonoma Valley since 2017

Bear typingThe mission of Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group (SVCG) has been to assist the city of Sonoma form a compassionate cannabis policy that will ensure safe and legal access to medicinal cannabis for the residents of Sonoma and Sonoma Valley.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

On January 20, 2021, the city council voted to amend our ordinance to permit an additional walk-in retail dispensary. The newly revised ordinance went into effect on May 19.

A second retail outlet would improve service to the 45,000 people living in the greater Sonoma area. Competition can provide folks here with easy, safe access to more product choice, better services, etc. That’s what the free market is all about, isn’t it? Everybody wins, the city, adult consumers and *especially* medical users.

However, there have been forces within the industry that are working against the second dispensary option and would prefer that the new permit process be slow-walked. You can read about it in this post.

You can also read more details in member Josette Brose-Eichar’s Sonoma Sun commentary, “A brief history of cannabis in Sonoma”.

 

We continue to ask the city council to move the second dispensary forward.

We continue to ask the city council to move the second dispensary forward.

The following is our latest email to the city council, the city manager, planning director and city attorney. This was also sent separately to the Publishers of the IT and Sonoma Valley Sun:

Sonoma City Council
No. 1 The Plaza
Sonoma, CA 95476


January 18, 2023

Re:    Placing Second Cannabis Dispensary on Agenda

Dear Mayor Lowe and City Council Members,

We are writing because we believe now is the time to move forward with the second dispensary process. Setting this as a high priority will allow the city to receive additional tax revenue sooner than later, as well as provide patients and consumers with fairer, more equitable access to products and services.

Please permit us to quote from the Agenda Report – Second Commercial Cannabis – Procedures & Guidelines contained in item 7.2, November 17, 2021:

“4. RFP. Staff recommends that the City Council consider the second “RFP” process after receiving tax data/reports following a 6-month operational/finance reporting period. This would allow the City Council to not only determine the fiscal benefits of authorizing a second commercial cannabis business to operate in the City, but also provide adequate time to evaluate any communitywide benefits or impacts associated with the use. Staff anticipates being able to report back to the City Council in Fall 2022 regarding any potential impacts and would return to the City Council for direction on the timing of the release of the RFP, ostensibly prior to the end of the calendar year.”

On the evening of November 17, 2021, the city council unanimously adopted two Resolutions. The first approved “Administrative Regulations and Application Procedures and Guidelines”, and the second, “Commercial Cannabis Processing Fees”. These two Resolutions constitute the Request for Proposals document.

Staff anticipated that it would report its findings to the city council in the fall of 2022. We are now three months beyond that 6-month operational/finance reporting period.  The newest city council members all showed their support for a second dispensary at the October 10 candidates forum, so we feel the time is right for the city to consider, discuss and act on opening the Request for Proposal Process (RFP) for a second retail storefront commercial cannabis business in the city and that this be placed on the city council’s agenda in February/March.

We understand that the city currently has an interim city manager and interim planning director. We welcome them to their positions and look forward to working with them. Should they need more background on the issue, we refer them to the same agenda item, 7.2, of November 17, 2021.

Best Regards,

SVCG Executive/Policy Committee

Opening Email to City Council

Opening Email to City Council

This is a first of several emails to be sent in the next 3 weeks regarding the second dispensary process. It outlines the primary reasons why the city should issue the Request for Proposal (RFP). Sonoma City Council No. 1 The Plaza Sonoma, CA 95476 January 5, 2023Re:...

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Long time advocate Ken Brown recovering

Long time advocate Ken Brown recovering

By his permission, we'd like everyone to know that our good friend Ken Brown is currently recovering from a recent seizure. As you can see by the photo, he sends all a message of peace. We could say he is in fair spirits, but he would certainly appreciate an...

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