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 has been open for nearly a year and a half 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 in 2018 and 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 2023.


Best Regards,

The SVCG Team

Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group

The Voice for Cannabis in Sonoma Valley since 2017

Bear typing

The 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.


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”.


People are getting hurt…

People are getting hurt…

Cannabis has been king in this rural area of northern California. But as prices plummet, communities and business owners are hurting, with no clear solutions in sight. Many blame Proposition 64 for undermining small growers.

This is another very important reason why it is necessary to support a second dispensary in Sonoma, and for that matter, in every jurisdiction across the entire state that is seriously under-served or not served at all.

It’s difficult to understand why some would rather support selfishness, slander and greed, than recognize what “for the greater good” really means. Do not tell us it’s “just politics”. It is not…

“Give Compassion: Every day the average person fights epic battles never told, just to survive.”
– Ken Poirot

Sonoma and Local Control: Strengthens illicit market, keeps prices high

Sonoma and Local Control: Strengthens illicit market, keeps prices high

“The second fatal flaw is local control, or the requirement that cannabis businesses receive permits from both the local jurisdiction and the state. That sounds reasonable. But in practice, it’s led to cannabis retail bans in much of the state.

By allowing municipalities to opt-out of legalization, the state has essentially ceded two-thirds of the market to criminals.
Cannabis is one of California’s great heritage industries, along with wine, technology and entertainment – industries we’ve nurtured and fostered with supportive legislation and regulation.
By right, we should have a robust cannabis market that’s poised to dominate in a post-legalization world. But achieving that will require immediate changes to ensure legal cannabis is more accessible and less expensive for consumers.”

Not only is Sonoma city government supporting protectionism, so are many in the local industry, who talk a good game, but when it comes to standing up for what’s right, choose to remain silent.


Healdsburg will host two retail dispensaries.

Healdsburg will host two retail dispensaries.

In protecting a city-sponsored monopoly, Sonoma refuses to begin the process for its second dispensary.
Healdsburg and Sonoma each have a population of 11,000.

Their “Greater Trade Areas” both account for populations of 40,000-50,000.
The nearest dispensaries outside of the city limits of both are comparable in time+distance.
Both Healdsburg and Sonoma contracted with HdL. HdL advised the city of Sonoma that it could likely support two dispensaries.

Why would a city council choose to ignore the expert opinion of its own consultant and reduce by half the additional options a second dispensary would provide its constituents?

“multistep process that nonetheless is expected to attract 10 or more applicants.”
I’m not sure on what info Healdsburg bases its expectations, perhaps from HdL, the consultant Sonoma employed, but if Healdsburg expects 10 applicants, you can expect much the same in Sonoma. There should be no shortage of interested parties.

Why are they doing business in Sonoma?

Why are they doing business in Sonoma?

Would like to remind that if it wasn’t for our Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group constantly lobbying the city council over five long years for all our medical patients and consumers, Erich Pearson’s sparc would never have opened for business in Sonoma. Just one example is when the council removed the first dispensary process from the Agenda due to the Hundley/Hamlin/Pearson/Jenkins scheme to derail Proposition Y, which would have allowed multiple dispensaries in the city.

Our letter to the city council at the time conferred our support for re-agendizing the process:

To: Sonoma City Council and Staff
From: Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group

Madams and Sirs,
The Sonoma City Council knows well what’s currently at stake here for thousands of residents of this city and the entire Lower Valley. Failure to provide for access and wider choice should not be an option. It’s up to the council to accept its responsibility to bring this issue to conclusion. I do believe this has to weigh heavily on council members. We would like to bet that you rise to the occasion.


Gil Latimer
Ken Brown
Jewel Mathieson, in Spirit
Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group