Sonoma Dispensary - Sonoma Valley Cannabis GroupFor responsible health care policy
Congratulations! We did it. After 3 and-a-half long years of cajoling and discussion, the city of Sonoma will permit 2 walk-in retail cannabis dispensaries. However, the first dispensary will likely not open until late summer. And an overly-long and burdonsome process has yet to begin on selecting an applicant for the second. See our posts for the latest news on the process.
This campaign was never about making it easier for “stoners to get their weed”, as many of the opposition would like to think. It was always about the patients. Always. Now, the essential services that dispensaries provide will become readily available within our own community. Those being treated for medical problems will no longer have to make a 2+ hour round trip drive to obtain medicinal cannabis. The lives of our seniors and the disabled who may not have vehicles or are on fixed incomes will be less stressful and difficult. In turn, the city will benefit from new jobs and an additional source of tax revenue. It can also take pride in furthering a progressive vision that improves the quality of its residents’ lives.
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 has finally been realized.
And thanks to our City Council allies, former Councilwoman Rachel E Hundley, Councilwoman Amy Harrington and Mayor Logan Harvey for leaning forward on this issue. They’ve helped define Sonoma as a city of progressive values and a pacesetter in Sonoma County.
In the meantime, the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group will continue to keep you informed on all the latest developments in 2021.
Ken Brown and Jewel Mathieson, in Spirit
Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group
The Voice for Cannabis in Sonoma Valley since 2017
The mission of Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group (SVCG) has been to assist the city of Sonoma form a compassionate cannabis policy that will accommodate a local dispensary with delivery service to ensure safe and legal access to medicinal cannabis for the residents of Sonoma and Sonoma Valley.
On January 20, the city council voted to amend our ordinance to permit an additional walk-in retail dispensary. The newly revised ordinance will be in effect on May 19.
A second retail outlet will 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 worked against the second dispensary option and would prefer that the new permit process be slow-walked. You can read about it in this post.
We also find it interesting that our own local newspaper, the Sonoma Index-Tribune, has passed on this latest story of a second dispensary, not to mention another recent, local cannabis story of real importance. Should we be suspicious?
Thank you letter to the city council, sent on Friday:
Hello City Council and Staff,
We would just like to thank the city council for addressing our cannabis question to the candidates. There are many people out here, not just in Sonoma, but in the entire Valley, who really appreciate all the hard work you’ve put into this issue over the years. It has been a bit of a roller coaster, but we’re closing in on a great finish that will benefit all of us.
Ken Brown and Jewel Mathiesen, in Spirit
Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group
The following Letter to the Editor by former Mayor Ken Brown was published in today’s IT. Below it, is the Comment we posted to the letter.
Loss of enthusiasm
EDITOR: I find it a bit ironic that, as the Sonoma City Council reviews its selections for Rachel Hundley’s vacant council seat, I am resigning from the board of the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Enthusiasts.
I no longer feel that the enthusiast organization fits with my views on cannabis in the Sonoma Valley.
I joined this group with my late wife, Jewel Mathieson, grounded in the principles of good medical cannabis policy.
The recent lobbying by those connected to the industry is disrespectful to Jewel’s core belief in unfettered public access to medicinal cannabis.
I will continue to advocate for a second dispensary at council meetings, and for positive conversations with folks in the industry and concerned citizens of Sonoma.
I am a prompt responder to phone calls and emails, so please feel free to contact me.
All things considered, kudos to the city council for moving through the evening’s process so smoothly.
As we stated above, on January 20, the city council voted to amend our ordinance to permit an additional walk-in retail dispensary. A very good thing! A second retail outlet will provide additional service to the 45,000 people living in the greater Sonoma area. Competition means more product choice, lower prices and better services.
But, the battle is not over. There are forces within the industry that have worked against the second dispensary option and would now prefer that the new permit process be slow-walked. Here is our public comment made at the latest council meeting:
“Once again, members of the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group would like to thank the city council for its decision to permit a second dispensary. A second outlet will bring additional resources, more product choices, and help keep prices competitive. It’s what medical patients and adult consumers of the Sonoma Valley deserve.
Frankly though, we’re pretty ticked off that certain elements within the local cannabis industry have actually lobbied against the second dispensary. Why did Michael Coats, who is the president of that Sonoma Cannabis Enthusiasts organization and who also handles Sparc’s public relations, write a letter to the Council suggesting that 1, if the city added a dispensary, it would disenfranchise the voters who chose No on Measure Y, (not true) and 2, recommending that the council, “let the approved dispensary get up and running, then evaluate before jumping too far ahead.”
Why would an organization that purports to be for cannabis business in the Valley actually work against the best interests of our medical patients and adult consumers?
And by the way, that cannabis enthusiasts organization is not to be confused with our team, the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group. We have spent 3 ½ years communicating with the city council on behalf of Sonoma’s medical patients. No “enthusiast” ever showed up to a City Council meeting, save one member, because it was in that member’s own business interest.
Putting dollars before patient access is unacceptable. It smacks of cynicism and arrogance. We could go on and on in detail about this, but a Council meeting isn’t the proper venue.
In lieu of that, we would just ask that the council ignore the negative outside forces and please find its way to expedite any new process to permit an additional dispensary.”
Hello City Council and Staff,
The entire SVCG membership and all the medical patients throughout the Sonoma Valley who depend on cannabis to help them manage their conditions would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to the Sonoma City Council and Staff for their hard work in bringing safe and fair access to all our residents.
Many of you understand, either from personal experience or social observation, just how important it is to be able to find a particular product that properly matches a specific medical condition, including chronic pain, arthritis, migraine, and cancer. Each patient’s medical condition and treatment is unique to them. Some may require ingesting edible products for relief. Others may require topical lotions or salves. Still others may require specific tinctures or lozenges. And there are dosage requirements and THC to CBD ratios to consider.
No one dispensary can possibly carry all of the products that any medical patient may need. Compassion dictates that we work to adequately meet the needs of patients by ensuring they have easy, affordable access to medical cannabis.
We only mention all of the above to set the context for why it’s so important to permit an additional dispensary in a timely manner. The longer it takes to bring a second outlet into operation, the longer medical patients have no access to the options and alternatives they may require.
We also understand that the council is facing a number of important issues it would like to engage. For these reasons, we ask the city council to explore ways that it can shorten the permit process and implement it within a more reasonable timeframe. We believe council member Amy Harrington’s suggestions may be a good start point for further discussion on this issue. It may even be possible to review the three remaining applicants from the first round and make a choice.
Again, thanks so much for your time and attention.
Ken Brown and the Spirit of Jewel Mathieson
Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group