On April 19th I attended the City Council Meeting for the Second Cannabis Dispensary agenda item. As a member of the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group (SVCG), I wanted to be make sure that the City Council members were not going to stall again on their five-month goal commitment of having more choice and competition right here within City boundaries. I knew that the Council had received numerous letters of support for another dispensary from citizens as well as Medical Cannabis groups and experts.
Once again the unexpected happened when the owner of 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, no more funds would go to various organizations he was now contributing to, and there would be a much lower tax amount going to the City if he had to compete with another dispensary. He also made some outrageous and untrue comments about SVCG, but that’s another story. He bought up that two out-of-town locations were within months of opening which was a bold faced lie. 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 to hold up on moving a Second Dispensary forward 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 this meeting.
As a citizen I expect the City Council members to do the necessary research so they can make informed decisions based on facts not hearsay. I’m sorry I believed each one of them saying they supported Medical Cannabis during their campaigns. It was a very disappointing and sad night.
— Perri Ellis Paniagua, Sonoma
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I will only add that on the night of the council meeting, false accusations were made against the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group, in public, by sparc owner Erich Pearson. We are troubled that the City Council did not ask Mr. Pearson for any evidence that supported his prejudicial charges.
1. Our Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group is a 200+ member independent, informal advocacy group. SVCG has 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.
3. Furthermore, to our knowledge, no member of SVCG has teamed up with any out-of-town operator who lives in San Francisco.
4. SVCG has never received any funding from any outside source.
5. SVCG finds Mr. Pearson’s allegation that our group is something more than an unfunded, small town, grass-roots advocacy group to be insulting, deceitful and completely devoid of truth.
Under circumstances such as this, a public retraction and apology would be an appropriate remedy.
Gil Latimer, Sonoma Valley Cannabis Group
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