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Sonomans deserve local access to cannabis

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Over 14 months ago virtually two-thirds of the votes cast in the City of Sonoma were “yes” votes for Proposition 64, the cannabis legalization ballot measure – that’s twice as many “yes” as “no” votes. It was not even close, it was a mandate: “A command or authorization to act in a particular way on a public issue given by the electorate to its representative(s).”

Despite the clear message from the voters in 2016, here we are in January of 2018 (post statewide legalization and implementation of initial state regulations) and nothing positive has materialized in terms of local permitting of any cannabis business in the City of Sonoma. In fact, at a recent Council meeting an expiring year-long cannabis moratorium was extended for another year with one odd exception: As of Jan. 1 any outside delivery service with a permit issued from a jurisdiction outside the City limits of Sonoma can simply stop in at City Hall, and pick up a business license to start selling cannabis within the City of Sonoma. Such products can be delivered to your home by unknown strangers for cash payments. Let that sink in: no local tax benefits, no local employment and no local suppliers with none of your cash circulating locally. What happened to our “buy local” mantra?

So for now, if you’d like to shop, see and smell cannabis products from a brick-and-mortar dispensary with a professional consultation, and prefer edibles, tinctures, capsules, etc. with measured doses that are safely packaged, consistent and have been lab tested, then you will need to hit the road for a few hours and spend your money elsewhere. But please don’t drive home under the influence even if your arthritis is killing you, your PTSD is consuming you, your multiple sclerosis is debilitating you, your chemo is unbearable, your opioid withdrawals are going unchecked, or… you just want to escape a bout of depression after watching the news.

In fairness, it’s not just the City of Sonoma that’s in legalization turmoil. If one reads the recently enacted 270 pages of flawed and conflicting State regulations, it’s somewhat understandable that local authorities have decision anxiety. Nonetheless, other Sonoma County jurisdictions already have cannabis regulations in place: Sonoma County itself as well as the Cities of Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Cotati and Petaluma. And even the City of Napa!

Why does Sonoma have to be the glaring holdout that continues an overreaching scenario of adults policing adults as we emerge from an era of fear of “reefer madness?” An era of where, for decades, dollars and imprisoned lives were wasted by taking away our rights so they could now be slowly handed back to us as privileges.

You may consider asking your elected representatives these and related questions; they can be contacted at www.sonomacity.org.

Now, assuming the local policy questions are suitably addressed in the weeks and months to come, let us all support some fair and reasonable solutions:

Temporary local permits can be issued almost immediately if the City Council so desires while permanent regulations are fine-tuned over the coming year. Our very qualified legal council has already provided a well-crafted set of regulations to the City Council for consideration, gleaned from existing regulations, but so far no response.

With over eight years of experience managing legal cannabis collectives that included cultivating, manufacturing and supplying state-of-the-art medicinal products to our members, we can offer a perfectly-situated cannabis access location within the City, at 865 – 875 W. Napa St. By starting with an immediate local delivery service with local benefits, we are prepared to follow with a state-of-the-art dispensary and high quality manufacturing, assuming we can expect permanent status.

We do have City design and construction approval already underway, which means these tired old buildings are about to emerge as a very exciting gateway complex to include a refurbished restaurant, wine café, offices and retail space, hopefully with cannabis access elements. Go to www.sonoma-access.com for details, images and updates.

Sonoma Valley resident Jon Early operates an online medical marijuana dispensary that delivers to clients throughout the state.