Sonoma County cannabis dispensary fined for failing to provide cancer warnings

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Santa Rosa cannabis dispensary Sonoma Patient Group has agreed to pay $40,000 in fines and civil penalties for not providing sufficient state-mandated warning information about potentially cancer-causing substances in products at its Cleveland Avenue retail store, Sonoma County District Attorney officials said.

In a settlement reached with prosecutors May 10, the dispensary also will hold an educational event to ensure other cannabis businesses in the county understand how to comply with the California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, commonly known as Proposition 65, which requires businesses provide clear warnings to consumers about substances that could cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.

The case started in 2017 with a complaint from the Sacramento-based Center for Advanced Public Awareness, a private consumer safety company that looks for Proposition 65 violations.

Sonoma Patient Group founder and owner John Sugg said the dispensary had consumer warnings posted on-site which he believed complied with state law. Once they were notified about the complaint, they changed the wording, he said.

Founded in 2007, Sonoma Patient Group is the longest-running dispensary in Santa Rosa.

Sugg said in a statement that many studies have shown cannabis smoke does not cause cancer, but he noted that California in 2009 added cannabis to a list of chemicals requiring consumer warnings due to Proposition 65.

Prop. 65 warnings ensure people can make informed decisions about the products they consume, District Attorney Jill Ravitch said.