Many citizens within our Sonoma Valley community remain concerned that the city of Sonoma has yet to move forward on the process for a second cannabis dispensary. Those concerns hold especially true for the elderly, veterans, and others on fixed incomes who depend on local access to affordable medical cannabis.
The second dispensary will provide much-needed competition. Competition can help offset patient costs. Poorer people have less access to medical cannabis than wealthier people. Monthly payments can run from $200 to $300.
Perhaps fewer than half of those who need medical cannabis buy from licensed dispensaries. They simply can’t afford the prices. This in turn helps sustain a black market that exposes patients and consumers to unregulated products that can contain dangerous pesticides and molds. This has a clear impact on the public health, safety, and welfare of our citizens.
The fewer the number of licensed dispensaries, the fewer options patients have to access the best products for their personal health needs. In a locality that only permits one dispensary, this can force patients to drive long distances or pay costly delivery charges. Again, this is especially unfair to those on limited budgets.
Less access helps to sustain the use of opioids and addiction because opioids are often easier to obtain. Opioid-related deaths are on the increase in Sonoma Valley.
This issue doesn’t only apply to medical patients. Many individuals who use cannabis report using it for both medicinal and recreational purposes. A recent study conducted by The Harris Poll shows that a majority of cannabis consumption is attributable to consumers’ desires to address health and wellness concerns.
Without competition, everyone is at a disadvantage, our patients, responsible adult consumers, and the city itself. With competition, businesses are incentivized to keep prices low and quality high. When consumers have more options to choose from, they are more likely to spend more, boosting the overall economy and increasing tax revenue.
Competition can prevent monopolies from forming, which can lead to market failure and reduced revenue.
Competition also leads to innovation, as businesses try to differentiate themselves from their competitors. This can inspire the development of new products and services, which can increase revenue from taxes on those offerings.
Past and present city council members have voted to permit an additional walk-in dispensary. That is the legacy of nearly five years of hard work by patients, consumers, advocates, and the city. This has been the democratic process in action and we call on the city to keep trust with its citizens and fulfill its commitment to move the second dispensary process forward.
— The Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group