People may soon be able to buy cannabis for recreational use from storefront dispensaries in the City of Sonora.
The Sonora City Council agreed on Monday night at a public meeting to move forward with drafting an ordinance that would allow for up to three cannabis dispensaries in the city limits, which would be able to sell the drug for recreational use as opposed to medical only.
An ordinance approved by the council in 2018 allowed for a maximum of two dispensaries, but they can sell only cannabis to people who have a valid doctor’s recommendation for medical reasons.
Hazy Bulldog Farms on Mono Way is the only medical cannabis dispensary in the city under the previously approved ordinance. A second dispensary was also allowed to move forward but has been delayed due to changes in investors and other issues.
Sales and commercial activity of any sort related to cannabis would still be banned in the unincorporated area of the county, because the council’s proposed ordinance would apply only to the three-square-mile area within the city limits.
The medical dispensaries in the city operate under a three-year agreement that requires them to pay a public benefit fee of $10,000 per month, or 5 percent of gross sales for that month, whichever is greater.
Jeff Muzio, owner of Hazy Bulldog Farms, said his sales have remained strong throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as other businesses have struggled. He has encouraged both the council and county Board of Supervisors to consider loosening their restrictions on the industry.
City Administrator Mary Rose Rutikanga said the city expects to receive about $150,000 in revenue this year from Muzio’s business alone, which she estimated could increase by 75 percent if he