CA: Sonora Council Approves Mayor’s Trip To Pot Symposium


Sonora Mayor Connie Williams expects to learn a lot about marijuana legalization when she travels to Silicon Valley today for a two-day conference on the topic.

The city council voted 3-1 at a meeting Tuesday night to cover the $200 trip for the “Silicon Valley Marijuana Awareness Conference,” hosted by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office today and Friday at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

“Anytime that we as a council can educate ourselves on behalf of the city to recognize changes that are coming, I think we ought to take advantage of it,” said Councilman George Segarini, who voted in favor of the trip.

Councilman Jim Garaventa was the only member opposed, while Councilman Matt Hawkins was absent.

“A conference like this would be more useful after the November election to figure out what’s actually going to happen,” Garaventa said. “Second, I suspect it’s going to be highly focused on Santa Clara and Silicon Valley.”

The symposium is aimed at educating public officials on the “unforeseen downsides of legalization in the nation’s most populous state,” according to a press release.

California voters could legalize recreational marijuana in the state this fall by voting in favor of Proposition 64 on the Nov. 8 election ballot. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 1996, but the substance remains a banned narcotic equal to heroin in the eyes of the federal government.

Confirmed speakers at the symposium include Dr. Kevin Sabet, director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, Dr. Bertha Madras, professor of psychobiology at Harvard Schools of Medicine, and representatives from states and districts that have already legalized recreational marijuana, including Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Washington, D.C.

Registration for the event was $65 by Aug. 12 and $100 after that. Williams said she heard about the event through an email from a constituent and made a reservation prior to the deadline to get the cheaper price.

The council approved spending $138 for Williams’ lodging, but she said she would cover the gas and other expenses herself. She said that she likely wouldn’t stay for the full two days.

Williams said she planned to write up a report about what she learned at the conference for the rest of the council, as well as bring back copies of any useful informational materials distributed at the conference.

Garaventa asked Williams if she would come back from the conference advocating for one side of the argument or the other.

“Oh no, I would be educating,” she replied. “We can come together and decide what’s best for our own community.”

Cindy Zelinsky, a local businesswoman and teacher at Sonora High School, spoke during public comments at Tuesday’s meeting to support sending Williams on the trip. She said she has concerns about the potential new law.

Councilman Mark Plummer said he thought the cost was relatively modest for the potential benefits, though he acknowledged Garaventa’s concerns as well.

“Those are all good points and valid, but this is also a chance to be proactive on something that has a relatively good chance to pass,” Plummer said.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Sonora Council Approves Mayor’s Trip To Pot Symposium
Author: Alex MacLean
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