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Hey Sonora City Council, Say No to Drugs

The City of Sonora is convinced a prosperous future depends on tax revenue derived from the sale of recreational marijuana. Quite a claim, considering no business plan or financial projections of any kind have been presented for review or discussion.

Sonora City Council argues, “Marijuana is already being delivered from outside the county so we might as well grow it here, sell it here and tax it here.” This is a curious thing to argue because the City is a plaintiff in a lawsuit to ban deliveries from outside the area. When they win the lawsuit as predicted, the “marijuana is already delivered here” argument for opening up recreational shops will be groundless.

City Council Member Colette Such sits on the Columbia College Foundation Board and YES Partnership whose mission is Dedicated to Preventing Suicide, Substance and Child Abuse in Tuolumne County, California. At the last City Council meeting, she approved recreational substance use and suggested 1% of the tax receivables be allocated to school drug education programs. 1% equates to a few thousand dollars per year. It’s so nice to offer our children some table scraps when they already have drug education in schools. What kids need are responsible role models with high moral values who solve problems with real solutions and innovation. Perhaps Council Member Colette Such could ask Columbia College students how to take advantage of the Opportunity Zone in Sonora and create large scale economic prosperity that can sustain high quality jobs and boost the overall economy of Sonora and Tuolumne County with a business model that advertises something other than substance use.

Mayor Matt Hawkins continues to ignore educators and law enforcement officers whose life mission is to raise and protect our future leaders. Personal accounts with specific details involving kids and marijuana as a gateway drug have been shared publicly, yet Mayor Hawkins turns a deaf ear, and instead lectures educators and law enforcement. Somehow his personal perspective trumps the realities which educators and law enforcement deal with daily.

I believe Council Member Colette Such, and every other Council Member who votes to approve recreational marijuana dispensaries, should volunteer one afternoon each month at their local Sonora High School to give drug diversion and treatment classes. They will get to see firsthand the current problem and how it is increasing over time with their policies in play. Perhaps they will even connect the dots on the gateway drug issue.

Mayor Pro-tem Mark Plummer and Council Member Jim Garaventa claim an issue of freedom of choice. Selling recreational marijuana is not a liberty. Providing easier access to drugs is not a liberty. A personal choice to say yes or no to drugs is a liberty. Therefore, let us be prudent to mind what liberties we the people allow government to decide for the people.

I remember being a second grade student at Twain Harte Elementary school. Teachers and community leaders passed out bandanas boldly declaring “SAY NO TO DRUGS!” We wore those bandanas as badges of honor, collectively committing that we would not give in to peer pressure, and when faced with the choice we would SAY NO TO DRUGS.

How far we have come in just a short time. I find myself in the political arena with community leaders who have clearly lost their moral compass. Children’s welfare has been replaced with the almighty dollar.

Make no mistake. This issue is only the beginning. The local medicinal shop owner has publicly stated at Board of Supervisors meetings that he wishes to cultivate large outdoor grows. You have all read about the problems Calaveras County has dealt with due to large-scale cultivation. The city has no room for such grows, so he will look to the County Board of Supervisors to pass his commercial cultivation request in order to vertically integrate and support his recreational dispensaries.

The long-term goal is to completely decriminalize all narcotics. The state of Oregon just passed Measure 110, legislation that legalizes opioids and pretty much every illegal drug. Just a few days ago, California State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) made headlines proposing legalizing psychedelic mushrooms and other psychedelics (possibly to include LSD). Where do you suppose those drugs would be sold? The same storefronts selling recreational marijuana?

Today, I ask you, citizen. What kind of future do you envision? Will legal drugs help us accomplish important work? Will legal drugs aid our kids as they try to find their way to a successful life?

You need to know this is not inevitable. 82% of California cities have banned Recreational Marijuana storefronts. 67% of Colorado counties have banned Recreational Marijuana. In the Cities of Santa Clara and Morgan Hill, concerned parents rose up and stopped it.

I have argued against increasing drug availability for three years at Sonora City Council meetings, Board of Supervisor meetings, commissions and partnerships which have a voice at the local and state level. I am convinced of this one thing: there is no greater issue and nothing more valuable to fight for than our kids, and securing the best possible future for them.

Should laws continue to pass legalizing illicit drugs, then so be it. But we do not have to jump on the recreational bandwagon for the sake of taxation and promote it within our city and county. We have a medicinal shop and ordinances which allow people to grow their own marijuana. The City Council action is about money, and enough is enough.

Council Member Ann Segerstrom said the decision to allow recreational shops in the city was, for the most part, a done deal even though they still have one final meeting to approve it. “We need the money” is what she said at a YES Partnership meeting. But I hope it is not a done deal. Tonight, you the community have a chance to voice your opinion. Do you want pot shops popping up in our county? Do you want there to be more access to this drug? Do you want this to lead to cultivation in our forests and agricultural areas? In the future, do you want harder drugs introduced to our community through these shops?

This is not a scare blog. This is a reality check for our local leaders. You need to know where this is headed and stop before we lose so much.

I would be honored for anyone to stand with me for our kids. Let your voice be heard. Speak up and ask the Sonora City Council to SAY NO TO DRUGS.

The Sonora City Council meeting is at 5:00 pm this evening, November 16th, by ZOOM, or phone:

Zoom Meeting Link:

Dial: (669) 900-6833

Meeting ID: 956 9778 3270

Passcode: 934671

If joining by phone, waive hand is *9, Unmute is *6, Mute is #6