And the hits just keep on coming: As if there weren’t enough crises for Sonoma County the past few years – the one problem that seemed to finally fade to the background is back: drought.
With a second year of below-average rain totals – and the Sierra snowpack, where we get most of our water, at 60 percent of normal – about 90 percent of the state is experiencing drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Composing the 10 percent of the state that isn’t in a state of drought are Humboldt, Monterey and San Diego counties, where those lucky buggers are merely “abnormally dry.” Only Del Norte County, located at the northwest tip of the state, is clear of any drought watch, according to the Drought Monitor map. Sonoma Valley is labeled in “severe drought.”
In for a penny, in for a pound: With the state on April 1 expanding vaccine eligibility to everyone 50 and over, Sonoma County should brace for an onslaught of inoculation-hungry quinquagenarians flexing their muscles to get a jab as soon as they can. Yet the approximately 60,000 county residents now added to vaccine eligibility will have to vie for the current allotment of 12,000 doses sent from the state each week – a bottleneck guaranteed to stymie thousands more residents trying to land an appointment. Add those to the countless other 65 and older residents who have already found it futile – either through lack of tech savviness or lack of time to constantly check online for appointment updates – and frustrations are guaranteed to mount. Sonoma County should still find a way to prioritize those 65 and over in its appointments booking – that’s the stage that has most beleaguered seniors trying to get their first vaccines.
And those older residents who still haven’t been able to make an appointment are also likely among the most vulnerable to the disease. The county shouldn’t let them be further trampled in the oncoming vaccine stampede.
Now that the smoke has cleared: The Sonoma City Council on April 5 will consider the introduction of an amendment to its cannabis ordinance, allowing the city’s second dispensary to be a storefront business. Under the current ordinance, passed by the council in 2018, two dispensaries are allowed – one storefront and one delivery-only.
For various reasons, however, when the city put out a call for dispensary applicants in 2019, none came in for the delivery-only license. Considering that a delivery business can operate from pretty much anywhere commercial cannabis is legal, jumping through any extra licensing hoops, or other restrictions, in the City of Sonoma made little business sense to potential operators.
Also making little sense was the council’s cautious decision to only allow one storefront dispensary. The thinking at the time was that it was likely more palatable to the community to enter into the new world of legal marijuana with small steps. But, now, more than four years later the trepidations over cannabis seem to be alleviating, as greater concerns over pandemics and fires have placed fears of another recreational inebriant in wine country in a more proper perspective.
Plus, a single dispensary won’t mean less cannabis use, it will simply mean the overall sales will be concentrated at a single location. As more than one Sonoma City Council member has already pointed out, allowing a second dispensary would create a more vibrant market for the product – bringing a competitive incentive for the businesses to offer their best prices and service, ultimately leading to a better cannabis climate for the local consumer and the city as a whole.
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