Sebastopol City Council poised to approve rules for recreational cannabis sales

Sebastopol is on track to allow its two dispensaries to sell cannabis for recreational use to adults at the start of 2018, which would make it the first local government in Sonoma County to do so.

California adults across the state can buy marijuana come New Year’s Day, and the question is what stores will be allowed to sell it. Cities and counties across the state have been scrambling to draft new rules either permitting or banning it, with many lagging to get local laws written by January.

Sebastopol’s City Council Tuesday decided it will vote Dec. 19 on an urgency ordinance putting temporary rules in place for sales, manufacturing, cultivation and other aspects of the non-medical industry.

Sebastopol Mayor Patrick Slayter said the city should be proactive in regulating how the local cannabis trade takes shape and focus on “the existing infrastructure, existing businesses that have knowledge of the industry, that have a positive track record.”

“Each community is making decisions, and that to me is what’s important, getting our stake in the ground,” Slayter said.

The city — often touted as a local bastion for progressive values — is home to one of the region’s flagship dispensaries, Peace in Medicine, founded a decade ago. Founder Robert Jacob served on the City Council, with a stint as mayor, making him one of the first elected officials in the state who was open about his work in the medical marijuana industry.

Slayter said the dispensary, now called SPARC, had the kind of “positive track record” the city was looking for in marijuana outlets, and that it had helped him better understand the cannabis industry.

“If anyplace can do it right, it’s Sebastopol,” Omar Figueroa, a Sebastopol resident and cannabis attorney, said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s a small city and it

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