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Pot delivery slips into Sonoma Valley

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Valley, yes... City, no

When provided with a downtown Sonoma delivery address on Tuesday, dispensary owner Karen Kissler said, “No problem.” Her company’s subsequent delivery to West Napa Street was likely her company’s last for a while.

A quick check with City of Sonoma staff uncovered a problem. Kissler was unaware of the City’s “Urgency Ordinance #09-2017” which, in section 5, prohibits even “state-licensed and locally-permitted retail cannabis delivery businesses located outside of the jurisdictional limits of the city... from [delivering unless they] have obtained a city business license and paid the requisite city business license tax.]" It also limits deliveries inside City limits to customers with a medical marijuana card.

When reached for comment, Kissler was “shocked” to learn of the requirement as she does not know of any other cities with the same requirement, and she has been delivering without any issues throughout Sonoma and Marin counties since January.

By end of day, she was in contact with City of Sonoma staff to begin the necessary paperwork. Whether it will be approved by the City is another matter.

When reached by phone on Tuesday morning for a cannabis delivery order to Sonoma Valley, dispensary owner Karen Kissler said, “Sure, in fact, I just got off the phone with another Sonoma customer, we can head right over.”

Free, legal cannabis delivery to Sonoma Valley is here. Now.

Kissler, 63, owns Santa Rosa-based Alternatives, one of the few cannabis dispensaries in Sonoma County that is legally allowed to deliver pot to recreational users in Sonoma Valley. A medical marijuana card is no longer required, just proof of being over 21.

And since Prop. 64 passed in January, Kissler said that her deliveries to Sonoma Valley have increased exponentially. Since the start of the year she has had to increase her staff four-fold.

Kissler operates both her busy brick-and-mortar retail operation at 1603 Hampton Way and an online site (alternativescollective.com). She sells a wide range of products with THC (the psychoactive compound that makes you high), CBD (the analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety property without psychoactive effects) and hybrids. Her specialty, she said, is high-CBD edibles, creams, tinctures and cartridges.

“People are blown away by the options when they walk in,” said Kissler, who added that she really enjoys guiding people through the possibilities.

“Sonoma County is a wine-driven area but there are detriments to alcohol and people have been waiting a long time to try cannabis, both medically and recreationally,” she added. “People are getting attuned to what cannabis can do for them.”

Kissler uses three Priuses for delivery and has a stable of bonded and insured on-call drivers, who she describes as “couriers.”

Ninety minutes after an order was placed on Tuesday morning, Alternatives’ cheerful courier Jacob arrived in Sonoma, childproof envelope in hand.

Jacob said he frequently delivers to Sonoma Valley and expects to head here even more “when word gets out.”

Delivery is available seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Customers choose their products and place their orders online or over the phone. Alternatives accepts both cash and credit cards. Delivery in the county is free for orders over $50.

“You show your ID to the driver and you are all set,” said Kissler.

In 2018, state laws still limit the quantity and potency of the cannabis a person can buy per day. Because of this, Alternatives is required to scan a customer’s ID card, but the company website promises to protect client privacy.

“It is so much safer for our clients to get their items delivered,” she added. “No one needs to drive. It is great for our housebound customers and no one needs to use the unlicensed, unvetted delivery options that they used to rely on.”

While medical cards have no longer been needed since January, customers who carry a medical card are exempt from the 3 percent cannabis tax collected by the City of Santa Rosa (and all orders tack on local sales tax as well). Most products on the Alternatives site range from $15 to $45.

Debra Tsouprake, 62, owner of Greenheart Alternatives Health Care of Santa Rosa, doesn’t have a storefront but also delivers to Sonoma Valley and was also unaware of any restriction on delivering inside city limits. (The City of Sonoma requires a City of Sonoma business license to deliver in town.) She specializes in pain management products and is permitted for medical marijuana deliveries, but she expects that the medical restriction is on its way out shortly.

Valley, yes... City, no

When provided with a downtown Sonoma delivery address on Tuesday, dispensary owner Karen Kissler said, “No problem.” Her company’s subsequent delivery to West Napa Street was likely her company’s last for a while.

A quick check with City of Sonoma staff uncovered a problem. Kissler was unaware of the City’s “Urgency Ordinance #09-2017” which, in section 5, prohibits even “state-licensed and locally-permitted retail cannabis delivery businesses located outside of the jurisdictional limits of the city... from [delivering unless they] have obtained a city business license and paid the requisite city business license tax.]" It also limits deliveries inside City limits to customers with a medical marijuana card.

When reached for comment, Kissler was “shocked” to learn of the requirement as she does not know of any other cities with the same requirement, and she has been delivering without any issues throughout Sonoma and Marin counties since January.

By end of day, she was in contact with City of Sonoma staff to begin the necessary paperwork. Whether it will be approved by the City is another matter.

Tsouprake relies on word of mouth, takes phone orders and markets via her Facebook and Instagram pages. Readers of the North Bay Bohemian recently voted her “best cannabis delivery company in Sonoma County.”

“People have been waiting for a long time for this,” Kissler said. “Ever since January, we’ve been slammed.”

Email businessnews@sonomanews.com.