Sonoma names first (and only) license for retail cannabis

Posted on August 18, 2020 by Sonoma Valley Sun


A rendering of the SPARC location at 19315 Sonoma Highway, at the site of the closed El Gallo Pinto restaurant.

The City of Sonoma has awarded its exclusive cannabis retail license to SPARC, a company that currently operates locations in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol, and three in San Francisco. It plans to open at 19315 Sonoma Highway, the site of several Mexican restaurants over the years, sometime in 20201.

This story has been updated with the correct council vote, and more specific site info

The City Council vote was 5-0, ending a process that began with 1o applicants for the city’s first, and only, permit to sell cannabis. The final choice came down to SPARC, which also operates a biodynamic cannabis farm in Glen Ellen, and the proposal from Justice Grown.

Gaining a license in the town of Sonoma, which has been marked in its defiance against cannabis businesses, was no simple matter. The process began over two years ago as the city progressed slowly on developing an ordinance. The application process began in January.

“The city ran a very competitive process and we are deeply honored to have been selected,” said Erich Pearson, SPARC co-founder and chief executive officer. “As a Glen Ellen resident, it has been my dream to operate a world-class facility in my own back yard.”.

The Sonoma store will create 15-20 positions when it opens its doors in Sonoma next year, according to said Sean Kelley, SPARC’s president and chief operating officer

As part of its detailed pitch to the city, SPARC said it will donate five percent of its profits to support the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, La Luz, and other local nonprofits, and will donate $4,000 per month in free cannabis to support low-income medical patients.

Founded to serve medical patients, the SPARC name refers to its original moniker as the San Francisco Patient Resource Center, and helping those in need is part of the company’s founding intention.

Tuesday night’s council meeting was made particularly poignant by the recent death of  Jewel Mathieson, who, along with husband Ken Brown, advocated for the Justice Grown bid.

“We want to express our sincere gratitude to the many pioneers, including Ken Brown and his wife, the late Jewel Mathieson, for their passionate commitment to ensuring that Sonoma residents have safe access to medicinal cannabis,” said Pearson. “Without their collective efforts, this would not have been possible.”


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