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Sonoma Valley Cannabis Enthusiasts Mourn and Celebrate

SVCE founding member Jewel Mathieson passes away days before co-founder Erich Pearson wins exclusive cannabis retail license for downtown Sonoma and co-founder Mike Benziger secures full permitting for his GlenTucky Family Farm


Sonoma, CA - August 27, 2020 ( Newswire) The Sonoma Valley Cannabis Enthusiasts (SVCE), a 501c3 organization, shares sadness and joy over a recent spate of news within its organization this August. Founding SVCE member Jewel Mathieson, 62, passed away from breast cancer on Aug. 5, 2020. Jewel was attended by her loving husband and former Sonoma mayor and SVCE president Ken Brown as well as other family members when she passed. Jewel and Ken helped to found the SVCE in 2018 as a fierce cannabis advocacy group in the Sonoma Valley, a natural outreach of her work with the Sonoma Patient Group, a medical cannabis dispensary she founded with colleague John Sugg in 2007 after her first cancer diagnosis.

"Jewel was well-named," says SVCE treasurer Doug Gardner. "She was a jewel - an absolutely lovely person whose activism and presence made a distinct impact on Sonoma Valley and our community. She and Ken have been a constant North star for our organization. We are all honored to have shared the founding of this organization with her."

A GoFundMe campaign to support Jewel's 18-year-old daughter has been established and can be accessed here.

At the other end of the emotional spectrum, SVCE co-founder and SPARC CEO Erich Pearson won a 5-0 conditional approval from the Sonoma City Council on Aug. 17 to establish his proposed SPARC cannabis dispensary retail outlet inside the city. This approval will add a Sonoma SPARC store to those already operating in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol, as well as three San Francisco outlets. Pearson grows cannabis in a biodynamic manner on his Glen Ellen farm.

As part of this deal, SPARC will allocate 5% of its profits to support the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, La Luz, and other local nonprofits, and will additionally donate $4,000 per month in free cannabis to support low-income medical patients and those needing palliative aid. Founded to serve medical patients, the SPARC name refers to its original moniker as the San Francisco Patient Resource Center, and helping those in need is part of the company's founding intention.

"Being able to give back to the Sonoma Valley, a place I am proud to call my home, is paramount to me," said Pearson. "I am immensely honored that we will be able to support the lives of low-income and Latino community members directly each month. This is a wonderful example of the powerful impact that cannabis monies and taxation done correctly can offer to local residents."

SVCE co-founder Mike Benziger and wife Mary Benziger, whose biodynamic GlenTucky Family Farm above Glen Ellen has been seeking full permitting from the county for years, are pleased to announce that they have finally achieved full approval from Permit Sonoma to raise 50 outdoor cannabis plants. Their state approvals were already in place.

"As a former winery owner, my family and I have had the honor to farm in this valley for a long time," said Benziger. "And over those years we have come to realize what an incredible place this valley is and that there is a responsibility that goes along with cultivating the land. When we started to practice Biodynamic farming practices almost 25 years ago, we learned what it really means to be a steward of the Earth. Our mission on this farm is ‘to work with nature to grow the purest, most honest and healing foods and medicines and to provide them to those in need.' We also want to be active in researching methods that give distinctive attributes to the marijuana we grow so that we can establish real criteria for a true Sonoma Valley Appellation of Origin. It all starts with purity, place, and a lot of passion."

Previous to the Covid-19 pandemic, the SVCE met monthly at the HopMonk Tavern in Sonoma, typically hosting monthly community speakers and cannabis experts. Meetings are free and open to the general public. Please look for notice of new meetings when we are once again able to do so.

About SVCE

SVCE exists to promote Sonoma Valley's distinctive and unique cannabis to residents of California and beyond. SVCE's goal is to highlight our local cannabis' remarkable terroir and to spotlight how Valley cannabis, properly grown, adds value to both our environment and our community. Providing education and information to our members and visitors about the medical and responsible adult uses of cannabis is a high priority of our organization. We support local charities and partner with food, wine, health, and tourist businesses.

Media Contact

Michael Coats

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