Letter to the Index-Tribune editor, May 5, 2023
EDITOR: I am deeply concerned about false accusations made against the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group (SVCG) by SPARC CEO Erich Pearson during the April 19 city council meeting. I am also troubled that the city council did not ask Mr. Pearson for any evidence he may have to support such prejudicial charges.
Erich Pearson currently operates five cannabis dispensaries in Sonoma County and San Francisco. His dispensary in the city of Sonoma has been open for one year and is the one and only cannabis retail store within a one-hour round-trip drive to any of his competitors.
To maintain this retail advantage, Mr. Pearson has employed questionable tactics, but his allegations, made in a public forum to the Sonoma City Council, are particularly egregious.
1) SVCG is a 200+ member, independent, informal advocacy group. SVCG is not, nor has it ever been, affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with any other company, agency or government agency. We view any charge to the contrary as defamation of character, resulting in a negative reflection on our reputation.
2) Furthermore, to our knowledge, no members of SVCG have allied themselves with any out-of-town operator who lives in San Francisco.
3) SVCG has never received any funding from any outside source.
4) Our mission has been to assist the city of Sonoma shape compassionate cannabis policy and to keep our members informed of developments that bear on their needs. SVCG finds Mr. Pearson’s accusation that our group is something more than an unfunded, small town, grassroots advocacy group to be insulting, deceitful and completely devoid of truth.
Under circumstances such as this, a public retraction and apology from him would be an appropriate remedy.
To be honorable means having a regard for what is morally right. Growing up, I was taught the value of honesty and fairness and how both reflect on one's credibility. I imagine those tenets resonate with your readers, as well.
There are always battles of ideas and struggles to win hearts and minds. But, there is no honor in falsifying or inventing a narrative to deliberately mislead others — only credibility lost.
Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group
The good old days
EDITOR: There was an America that used to be and none of us remember. I only know that it was different and in many ways it was better. The people were better. The way we earned a living was better.
America was honest and had ideals.
I was lucky I got to see the tail end of it.
What you see before you is what remains of a great nation. People used to call America the land of opportunity. A country where anything was possible.
The pinnacle of innovation and the home of the Industrial Revolution.
Not everything was made of plastic. Many things were made of metal or ceramic. The food was fresher and not everything was processed and packaged. Now we have to address contamination of our food and water.
Fewer families were broken. Grandparents were actually grand. Children played outside and a great deal of what they played with relied on their imagination. There were model airplanes and model trains. People engaged in hobbies that stimulated their imaginations and developed skills.
The gun was a respected tool something you were trusted with when you were old enough to use it. The reason I'm reminding you of this is because lately I feel we could use an example. The time has come to acknowledge our need for change and implement the necessary recommendations.
How we conduct our lives is important not only in the way that we think of ourselves but to set an example for younger generations. When was the last time somebody spoke to you in this manner? When was the last time a public figure or leader encouraged you to have a higher standard of personal conduct?
We need better leaders.
The reason I mention it is because I believe it's what we need now more than ever. We need heroes and role models because if you've looked at the evening news you're probably scratching your head wondering what happened.
The time to be magnificent is now.
Let's look at where we're headed and plan a better destination. We need to give younger generations better opportunities and increase the quality of life for everyone. If we can imagine a better way of being we can go there together. Once more unto the breach.
More cannabis concerns
EDITOR: I am a member of the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group. At its Jan. 31 priorities meeting which I attended as did several other members, the Sonoma City Council set a review of the request for proposal for a second dispensary on its list of goals for the next five months. On April 19, I attended the city council meeting to hear the cannabis dispensary agenda item. Specifically since it was already 2.5 months into the timeframe, I wanted to make sure that the city council members were not going to stall again on their commitment of having more cannabis choice and competition right here within city boundaries. I knew that the council had received letters of support for another dispensary in town from citizens.
Once again the unexpected happened when the owner of the first dispensary, SPARC, came to the podium requesting another year or two to be the only dispensary in town to see if he could make a go of it in these hard economic times. He talked about how expensive it was to set up. Among his list of threats was laying employees off, fewer funds for the various organizations the business supports, and lower tax revenue for the city of Sonoma if he had to compete with another dispensary.
The two Sonoma County dispensaries approved by the board of supervisors he mentioned have not opened and when they do, they are not going to be as convenient as one right here in town. He also made some outrageous and untrue comments about SVCG, but that’s another story.
If this man claims he cannot be successful if another dispensary is allowed, why does he continue to own multiple dispensaries in Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and San Francisco?
Our city council fell for his crocodile tears hook, line and sinker. Each one hemmed and hawed at roll call. The end result was each member voted not to move forward on a second dispensary yet, with no timeframe set to revisit the topic. Again there was a lot of indecisiveness — six months, a year to revisit, who knows? In the end they all agreed a timeframe didn’t need to be set at the April 19 meeting.
As a citizen, I expect the city council members to do research so they can make informed decisions based on facts not hearsay. I’m sorry I believed each one of them when the said they supported medical cannabis during their campaigns.
It was a very disappointing and sad evening.
Perri Ellis Paniagua