Cannabis deliveries to Sonoma Valley still limited to medical patients
Sonoma cannabis users are voicing their frustration over what they say are mixed messages about whether or not a medical marijuana patient can get their medicine delivered to a Sonoma address.
While the City Council earlier this year banned licensing a physical cannabis dispensary, the city does allow licensed deliveries of medical marijuana into Sonoma – and a recent ruling by the state Bureau of Cannabis Control went further, deeming all adult cannabis deliveries legal in local jurisdictions under state law.
Deliveries to areas outside the city limits such as the Springs and Glen Ellen are already legal under county regulations.
There are currently legal cannabis delivery services to Sonoma – two of them, in fact, and another in the pipeline.
The first to get a permit was Alternatives Health Collective of Santa Rosa, which received its licensing in July. The second picked up their business license last Thursday, enabling Jewel Mathieson’s Santa Rosa-based Sonoma Patient Group to begin delivery to medicinal patients in town on Jan. 1.
“It took years to lay the groundwork, and two months to do the paperwork,” said Mathieson, a Sonoma resident and co-founder of SPG in 2007. Sonoma Patient Group in 2017 purchased Greenlight Alternatives, county medical cannabis delivery business, specifically to incorporate its delivery procedures, equipment and customers into SPG’s operations.
The November ruling from the state Bureau of Cannabis Control held that the intent of Proposition 64 – the cannabis-legalization initiative that passed in 2016 – was to legalize delivery of cannabis state-wide without local restrictions, and suggested that civic jurisdictions such as the City of Sonoma could not prohibit cannabis delivery as it would unlawfully prohibit access to a legal product.
That would seem to void the city’s current ordinance, which only allows licensed delivery of medicinal cannabis by businesses that reside outside the city limits, such as SPG and Alternatives.
City Attorney Jeff Walter at the Dec. 17 City Council meeting clarified the legalities of the situation. Walter said that the ruling by the Bureau of Cannabis Control to open up delivery throughout the state was “crafted in a very vague way.”
He said that since the ruling was a “regulation” only, and not a legally-binding “statute,” Sonoma remains within its right to limit delivery to medical cannabis only.
“I think we should stay that course pending outcome of that regulation and the challenges that are likely to be against it,” said Walter.
With her new business license in hand, Mathieson vowed to continue her efforts to bring medical cannabis to those who need it. A cancer survivor, Mathieson said she would now be able to make deliveries to shut-ins and hospitals, but regretted her inability to do so in the past.
“Watching people die without access to this medicine has been heartbreaking for me,” said Mathieson.
Both Mathieson and Karen Kissler, owner of Alternatives, said they would verify medical cards from their patients.
“We will comply with every regulation, we are so honored to do what we do,” said Kissler.
People in possession of a medical marijuana card from the county are relieved of up to 12 percent of the purchase price by discounts on state and local taxes, based on where the purchase is made. For deliveries, this means it’s Santa Rosa – where the dispensaries are located – that will see any income from the sale of cannabis to Sonoma residents, as long as the Sonoma continues to prohibit cannabis sales in the city.
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