The petition drive to get a measure on the November ballot to allow the retail sale of cannabis in Sonoma has cleared a major hurdle — the required number of signatures has been vetted by city hall. Next step: City Council, which has three options at its July 23 meeting: it can follow procedure and formally put the item on the November ballot; save the trouble and adopt the ordinance as written; or demand a feasibility and impact study. That last option would require at least 30 days to complete, which happens to fall after a hard election deadline, effectively shelving the vote until November of 2020. Jon Early, who is driving the pro-cannabis initiative, says the council faces a real conundrum, especially with three of its members up for reelection. Adopting the law outright might alienate the one-third of voters who likely oppose it (an apparently persuasive minority, given the council’s reticence on the issue). Passing the buck along for a direct election might likewise be an uncomfortable endorsement. As for an order for a study, Early says, “it will kick the can, once again, down the road the way the council has handled every other opportunity they’ve had to make cannabis headway over the past two years.” Regardless, “it will become a political football come November.” … Curiously, neither Ken Brown, the former city councilmember, nor his wife Jewel Mathieson signed the pro-pot petition. Yet the two are involved with The Sonoma Patient Group of Santa Rosa, “the longest permitted cannabis dispensary in Sonoma County.” Just last week they hosted a pitch meeting in Sonoma, open to the public, for potential investors.
In its new budget, the Board of Supervisors ended funding for staff support — and a decent meeting room — for the Commission on Human Rights, and the Springs’ Dimitra Smith, its vice chair, says the people of Sonoma County deserve much better. She calls the panel “a beacon of light within the county government system. A place where truly marginalized voices can be amplified and uplifted. Where justice, intersectionality and truth can grow and flourish. We have published reports on racism in schools, advocated for our unhoused neighbors, fought back against hate crimes, supported our immigrant, LGBTQ+, Disability communities, and so much more.” Despite the efforts, which for her add up to hundreds of volunteer hours a year, the panel must now try to raise its own funds to persevere. “I will not go quietly into the night with this one. I have worked too hard and too long these past six years. This is not the time in our nation, state or county to diminish the work of the Commission on Human Rights.”
— Val Robichaud