Stop MMDs; sign the Petition
Take 30 seconds to protect your loved ones, your property value and your community by joining more than 500 Sonoma Valley citizens and businesses, including the Sonoma Valley Unified School District and the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, by signing the online petition opposing medical marijuana dispensaries (MMDs) in Sonoma Valley.
Individuals who have signed this online petition are not necessarily opposed to legalization or to medical marijuana. The issue is how medical marijuana is dispensed.
Research shows that MMDs bring the following problems: increased crime, violence and gang activity; more drugs in our schools; property value decline and blight; peripheral sales of illegal drugs, including meth and cocaine; over-usage of our already reduced police and emergency services.
Let's examine the facts:
Sonoma Valley patients who need medical marijuana are already well-served. Ten companies deliver marijuana to the front door of any Sonoma Valley card holder; four of these offer free delivery. Further, a full MMD (Valley of the Moon Cooperative, and, possibly, Sonoma MMJ Cooperative) is only 12 minutes from the Springs. That is the same distance it takes to drive from the west side of Sonoma, at Hanna Boys Center, to the east side at Friedman's Home Improvement.
In California alone (the birthplace of MMDs), bans or temporary bans are now established in 244 cities and 26 entire counties. If MMDs are as harmless as proponents claim, or worth the small tax revenue, why would scores of cities and counties go through the exorbitant cost and harrowing effort required to reverse approved MMDs? Our smart neighbors, including Petaluma, Windsor, Cotati and Rohnert Park have bans. Sacramento County has bans in unincorporated areas similar to the Springs.
The real motive for investors wanting to bring a MMD to Sonoma is greed. Just one Santa Rosa dispensary reported profit of $1.33 million in a single year. Proposition 215 (which allows medical marijuana use for serious conditions like cancer, glaucoma and AIDs) created unintended consequences. While there are some cases of real need for medical marijuana, only 2 percent of dispensary patrons have these serious conditions.
Despite claims of tax revenue benefits, MMDs actually drain tax dollars through indirect costs such as overuse of already scarce police and emergency services. The Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce carefully weighed the economic benefits/costs of MMDs and concluded, "The sales tax captured by MMDs is not a significant source of revenue." And remember, 270 budget-pressed California cities/counties did their own analysis and said "no thanks" to the purported tax benefit.
Further, the very emergency services that you are helping to fund through your taxes will be less available to you. Where MMDs are located, police are inundated responding to pot-related crime.
And since grow houses proliferate wherever MMDs are located, fire fighters are busy responding to fire hazards caused by the heat lamps in grow houses. Incidentally, grow houses go under the radar by installing solar and water-catch systems designed to obfuscate the sharp increase in utility usage. Of course, much solar/water conservation is innocent and laudable.
A dispensary in the Springs will hurt the City of Sonoma, so this is a petition everyone needs to sign. If you like the Pipe Pirates vibe, just wait until a dispensary bullies itself into the Springs. You'll see a windfall of drug-related stores and their customers up and down the Highway 12 corridor. Our tourists will be very impressed, but not in the way we're hoping for. In turn, your property values will decrease. But more importantly, we'll lose our sweet, wholesome community that still has a bit of small-town camaraderie.
You voted to legalize marijuana? So did many of us who signed this petition. The issue here is how marijuana is dispensed (pharmacies are good).
Hopefully, Supervisor Valerie Brown will listen and advocate inserting simple language in our county MMD ordinance, such as "MMDs are prohibited in the Sonoma Springs, with boundaries already defined by the Springs Redevelopment Advisory Committee." It's even easier for the Sonoma City Council to follow 244 California cities and adopt a ban. The path is simple - and your petition signature and emails are vital.
This is our community. We have the right and responsibility to define it. If you agree, offer a moment to sign the petition at thepetitionsite.com/1/SonomaNoMmd (last md must be lower case). Then, email a short statement opposing MMDs in Sonoma Valley to Supervisor Brown, Assemblyman Huffman, Permit & Resource Department, Sonoma City Council and our group (firstname.lastname@example.org, Tisha.Simpson@asm.ca.gov, PPARKINS@sonoma-county.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org).
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Sue Messinger is a Sonoma Valley resident and writes on behalf of Vision for a Safe & Wholesome Sonoma Valley.