SF Weekly

SF Dispensary Aims to Outsmart the Pandemic

COVID-19 and a string of robberies have the cannabis industry on guard, but SPARC founder Erich Pearson remains optimistic about the future

By Zack Ruskin
07/28/2020

Erich Pearson was in the midst of another 16-hour-day working at his company’s Sonoma Valley farm when he took a break to reflect on the past four months. “It feels like it’s been five years since COVID started,” says Pearson, the CEO of the... read more

"SPARC has a large footprint when it comes to Bay Area cannabis brands. In addition to retail locations in the Haight, Mission, and SoMA, the company also has stores in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol."
"People are doing everything they can to get their brands onto these retail floors. We’re going to actually offer our technology to other dispensaries and then just send them orders. In exchange for that, we’ll be promoting and selling our own brands. I can’t mention names yet but we’ve got a handful of big, big retail stores that are interested."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"...outdoor growers like Pearson are eager to see action on [the concept of cannabis appellations]. For him, qualifying sun-grown, outdoor cannabis from a specific geographic region is a huge opportunity to differentiate what SPARC does from the weed produced by indoor grows."
"It’s not the same to have a warehouse in Sonoma as it is to have a plant in the ground in Sonoma. I think a lot of the market still tends towards really frothy-looking indoor cannabis, but, over time, I believe consumers will start to understand that outdoor, organically-grown marijuana is not only healthier for you, it’s healthier for the environment too."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"..appellations can offer legitimacy and prestige to smaller outdoor cultivators desperate to make their pot stand apart from that produced by mammoth corporate grows."
"As federal law changes, I think having appellations that are the same names as appellations from the wine industry will lift those brands even further. You’ll be able to say you’re from Carneros or from Sonoma Valley. We can’t grow cannabis in Napa yet, but should Napa Valley allow that, it’s a brand. Being able to put those brands on your jars and your cannabis will mean something to consumers — and it should."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Cannabis Business Times

SPARC Launches Vape Cartridge to Benefit Last Prisoner Project

A portion of sales from each cartridge will go directly to the organization as part of SPARC’s Carts for a Cause program

By Melissa Schiller
07/27/2020

SPARC, a California-based, vertically integrated cannabis operator, is rooted in compassion and giving back to its local community, according to Director of Strategy & Implementation Michael Bostarr. This led the company to launch its Carts for... read more

"SPARC...is rooted in compassion and giving back to its local community..."
"We have our own product, and we wanted to give back without necessarily placing the burden on the customer. You buy something and something good happens from your purchase. They can make a purchase of a cannabis product and support a cause they care about all at the same time."
Michael Bostarr
Director of Strategy & Implementation, SPARC
"We’re a gay-owned company. We care a lot about supporting pride and LGBTQ issues. That’s where it started, and we wanted to create it in a way that it could spread beyond just that."
Michael Bostarr
Director of Strategy & Implementation, SPARC
"Last Prisoner Project is really leading the charge right now in terms of cannabis nonprofits go for fighting a cause that is pretty objectively worth fighting for. We thought this was an opportunity both to engage in the dialogue and show our support for the work Last Prisoner Project is doing, and give that platform for our customers who may want to support that effort without making a tremendous change to their everyday habits."
Michael Bostarr
Director of Strategy & Implementation, SPARC
"It makes less and less sense that anyone would be serving a sentence for a crime that is now considered legal. Their focus is really on criminal justice reform initiatives, prisoner release, record clearing through clemency and expungement, and then reentry programs."
Michael Bostarr
Director of Strategy & Implementation, SPARC
"We like to stand for something, and these carts give us a way to show what we’re about to the public."
Michael Bostarr
Director of Strategy & Implementation, SPARC
"Our roots are really giving back to the community and supporting the local community with cannabis products. We see Carts for a Cause as something we want to continue doing for years and years as a modern way of continuing that tradition of giving back and continuing compassion when it comes to cannabis."
Michael Bostarr
Director of Strategy & Implementation, SPARC

Mic

How to get high and help the planet, too

By Melissa Pandika
07/15/2020

While we’re all currently and rightfully embroiled in coronavirus fear, climate change continues to imperil the planet, which is why I’m still making a conscious effort to reduce my carbon footprint — and cannabis consumption is a part of... read more

"SPARC, a dispensary and delivery service, ...produces sun-grown cannabis on its estate in Sonoma County, California, using organic, biodynamic methods."

Thrillist

The Best Recreational Weed Dispensaries in San Francisco

Complete with pickup and delivery

By Amy Copperman & Gary Goodson
07/14/2020

Weed has been open for recreational use in California — meaning no medical recommendation needed — since 2016. By now, you probably have a go-to San Francisco shop, but given the particularly stressful time we’re all in the midst... read more

"Swap bud for tech, and this sleek space could easily be an Apple store. You’ll get the same care you would from the Genius Bar, and you can be sure that each product has been through rigorous testing for purity and strength."

KSRO

Amy Jenkins And Erich Pearson On Creating Cannabis Appellations

07/14/2020

Pat talks to Amy Jenkins, California Cannabis Lobbyist, and Erich Pearson, SPARC Dispensary CEO, about SB 67 and the possibility of creating cannabis appellations throughout the state.

"A appellation, as the State [of California] is proposing it, would [require cannabis cultivators] to grow the plant in the soil and under the natural sunlight, much like with grapes... It looks like the State is heading in, what I feel, the right direction: a place on the Earth, where the plant grows in the natural environment."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Sonoma Index-Tribune

Letters to the Editor, July 14

Light a Sparc for Sonoma

07/13/2020

As the City Council considers the candidates competing for Sonoma’s exclusive cannabis dispensary license, I encourage them to look no further than Sparc, founded by Erich Pearson. When I moved to the Valley 40 years ago, my vision was to... read more

"When I moved to the Valley 40 years ago, my vision was to introduce biodynamic farming techniques to the vineyards of California ensuring a balanced, self-sustaining and healing ecosystem. Erich shares this vision, bringing green farming practices to California’s cannabis industry. In 2017, Erich launched Sparc Farm in Glen Ellen, establishing one of the first independently certified biodynamic farms for responsible cultivation of cannabis in the U.S. Erich’s pioneering work has been lauded by industry insiders and non-traditional allies alike."
Mike Benziger
Glen Ellen
"As a founding member of the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Enthusiasts, Erich works tirelessly to educate and inform residents regarding properly grown and responsible use of cannabis adding value to the environment and broader community. Erich recognizes the importance of being a good neighbor. Before breaking ground on his farm in Glen Ellen, he reached out to his neighbors to introduce the project, answer questions and proactively resolve issues. Erich’s commitment to transparency and strong desire to remain accountable to his community is an admirable quality."
Mike Benziger
Glen Ellen

NCIA's Cannabis Industry Voice

Full Integration While Expanding Your Product Line (podcast)

Learn more about full integration while expanding your product line with Michael Bostarr, Director of Strategy and Implementation of SPARC

07/13/2020

Michael is a passionate organizer who produced Blunt Talks San Francisco, and helped bring to life Meadow’s first-ever camping retreat – Meadowlands. He is former Chief of Staff at Kin Slips and Michael is now the Director of Strategy and... read more

"We've [gotten to our five stores] by winning applications, [merging] with other retails, and [taking over] operational control. The common thread that we generally try to focus on in our expansion is finding partners that align with our business model and our practices. What that means is that we create this common thread of people passionate about cannabis, people who take pride in their work, people who know how to navigate uncharted territory and aren't afraid to get in there and roll their sleeves up."
Michael Bostarr
Director of Strategy & Implementation, SPARC
"On the acquisition and merger level our vision is that a rising tide lifts all ships."
Michael Bostarr
Director of Strategy & Implementation, SPARC
"Our goal is to grow; our goal is to have lots of locations. But it's also to do so in a way that preserves the history of California cannabis, focuses on community, and continues the model that's the foundation of what we built."
Michael Bostarr
Director of Strategy & Implementation, SPARC
"SPARC was NCIA’s first official founding member [in 2010] as the industry association was first forming."
Bethany Moore
Communications Manager, NCIA

New Cannabis Ventures

San Francisco Cannabis Pioneer SPARC Sees Opportunity in Wine Country

Exclusive Interview with SPARC Chairman and CEO Erich Pearson

By Carrie Pallardy
07/08/2020

Vertically integrated cannabis company SPARC opened its first retail store in 2012, and it has continued to grow in the Bay Area. Chairman and CEO Erich Pearson spoke with New Cannabis Ventures about how the company farms in wine country, the... read more

"For right now, SPARC is really focused on growing in California’s wine country. The company has had success with the competitive application process in the area..."

mg Magazine

Commemorating LGBT Pride in 2020

Support for the gay community runs deep in the cannabis industry, this year, and every year.

By Staff
07/01/2020

Los Angeles, California-based, non-profit group Christopher Street West organized what is believed to be the world’s first permitted parade advocating for gay rights. The event was held in 1970 to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall uprising in... read more

"San Francisco-based SPARC launched an exclusive ‘Unicorn OG’ cartridge and will donating $1 from each sale to the GLBT Historical Society. The company also delivers free cannabis products to AIDS patients twice a month."

The Press Democrat

Sonoma County to dismiss more than 2,700 marijuana convictions

By Chantelle Lee & Julie Johnson
06/26/2020

More than 2,000 people convicted for marijuana-related crimes in Sonoma County will have their records cleared through a relief program initiated after California voters four years ago legalized recreational cannabis use among adults, District... read more

"We’re four years into (Prop. 64) and we’re now finally saying that we should think about addressing the wrongs from the drug war. It’s necessary what [Sonoma County District Attorney Jill] Ravitch has done, but she should’ve done it a long time ago."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"We need to take the next step and look at the way any law disproportionately affects communities of color and try to right those wrongs"
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Advocate.com

8 LGBTQ+ Cannabis Leaders Tell Us Who Gives Them Pride

Erich Pearson, CEO and Founder of Sparc, a northern California-based cannabis operator and retailer, on Laura Thomas

By Advocate.com Editors
06/26/2020

It’s unlikely we would have a legal cannabis industry in California (or anywhere) without the work of many trailblazing LGBTQ+ advocates. Cannabis has been used for social, religious, stress relief, and medicinal purposes for thousands of... read more


mg Magazine

Changing Habits: Cannabis Execs Explain How COVID-19 Has Changed Retail

By Danny Reed
06/24/2020

Retail has been consistently evolving for decades. The internet and our increasingly digitized world already were ushering in rapid change, but now, the COVID-19 pandemic has made many organizations rethink their retail approach from the ground up... read more

"We have made several changes to our standard operations since the beginning of COVID-19. To reduce person-to-person contact, we have switched to an online ordering system across all SPARC retail locations, and we are practicing retail safety guidelines with the advice of health experts."
Robbie Rainin
VP of Retail, SPARC

Sonoma West Times & News

COVID may slow down permitting process for cannabis business hopefuls

Strong online sales are a bright spot for the industry

By Katherine Minkiewicz
06/22/2020

While COVID-19 has slowed down countless industries and even put a few — such as the tourism industry — to a temporary grinding halt, it’s also slowed down the local cannabis industry, making the already sluggish permitting process even slower... read more

"Sparc (located in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol)...now [has] live online shoppers that can virtually help folks who have never been to a dispensary and need guidance, or those who may not be computer savvy, purchase products."

Cannabis Business Times

SPARC Hires Out-of-Work Farmers for Its Sungrown Cannabis Operation in Glen Ellen, Calif.

The vertically integrated cannabis operator partnered with La Luz to employ 10 workers referred by the nonprofit organization

By Melissa Schiller
06/19/2020

When SPARC CEO Erich Pearson saw the local Hispanic community in the Sonoma Valley suffering from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, he leveraged the company’s relationship with La Luz, a nonprofit organization that provides resources... read more

"I think we’ve seen a disproportionate disruption in [the Latin American] community, so it’s nice to be able to reach into that community and help out."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"Anybody who’s out of work deserves a job. I think [the Latin American] community in particular, the immigrant community, has had it worse off through COVID, and those are our neighbors. Those are our community members."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Forbes

MedMen’s Failure Is Everything Wrong With Legal Cannabis (And Is Only The First Company To Implode)

By Chris Roberts
06/19/2020

The long and slow dumpster fire that is the immolation of MedMen, once the largest and the most valuable cannabis company in the United States (on paper, anyway), is burning down to the last ashes. After watching the beleaguered multi-state cannabis... read more

"I think investors thought of the cannabis industry like tech, because they didn’t have anything else to compare it to. This isn’t something you can build in a year or two and sell. It takes a year or two just to figure out the permits. It’s quite a bit more complicated."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Leafly

Leafly’s guide to California’s cannabis delivery services

By David Downs
06/17/2020

Step aside, 1-800-Flowers. Millions of Californians and visitors can enjoy legal cannabis delivered to their door like it’s the future or something. Thanks to legalization via Proposition 64, since 2018, any person age 21 and older in the... read more


SFGate

Why were dozens of Bay Area cannabis dispensaries recently robbed?

By Zack Ruskin
06/17/2020

What happened at Oakland’s Magnolia Wellness during the final weekend of May was not the result of a protest run amok. Yes, many businesses near the heart of the action suffered broken windows and fell prey to looters as fury over the police... read more

"SPARC, Apothecarium, Green Cross, and California Street Cannabis are among the other stores in the city to also report they were hit by a professional crew. And dispensaries were not the only targets."

The French Toast

LGBTQ, Cannabis Industries Shared History Shines In Pride

The cannabis and LGBTQ communities share a history of support, but marijuana companies could step up more with monetary support

06/16/2020

The shared history between cannabis and the LGBTQ+ community is long, including the landmark moment when HIV/AIDS activists pushed through medical marijuana legalization in California in 1996. There is a commonality of lived experience as well. As... read more

"San Francisco-based company SPARC has launched its exclusive Unicorn OG cartridge, and is donating $1 per sale to the GLBT Historical Society."

LA Weekly

Pandemic Merges Pot and Latinx Farm Labor Support Effort in Wine Country

By Jimi Devine
06/15/2020

One cannabis company, SPARC, is attempting to do its part helping the wine country Latinx community that’s seen much of its economic opportunity disappear with the pandemic. With many wine country farm laborers and restaurant employees out of a... read more

"SPARC was founded on medical cannabis patients support in San Francisco during the AIDS crisis. We have always been about supporting the community by cultivating and providing clean medical and recreational cannabis. Offering meaningful employment with help from La Luz reminds me of where we came from, and the multitude of positive impacts that come from running a legal cannabis business."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"We’ve always worked with community organizations. It’s something we’ve done since the very beginning. It was the nature of a lot of early cannabis businesses. We had to build allies and friends because you had the government against you."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

SFWeekly

More Than Half of SF Dispensaries Targeted by Burglars

Nearly two dozen pot shops reported break ins and vandalism over the past two weeks

By Joe Kukura
06/11/2020

“Warning — Armed with Automatic Weapons,” reads a handwritten sign posted on wooden boards at the Flower to the People cannabis dispensary on Second Street. A message spray painted on the plywood above Moe Greens warns would-be intruders that... read more

"The damage to our [Lower Haight] store is estimated at around $6,000-$7,000. There was an unsuccessful break-in at our Haight Street location. All of our front windows were smashed out and our interior security gate was damaged but held up. Security features at [our Love Shack] store deterred potential incidents that night."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Sonoma Index-Tribune

Sonoma’s city council picks 2 to present dispensary plans in August

By Christian Kallen
06/11/2020

And then there were two. The City of Sonoma’s cannabis sweepstakes winnowed itself down from the ten applicants to the two blessed with the council’s approval to continue to Phase 2 of the application process: Locate a suitable storefront and... read more

"We didn’t set out three years ago with venture capital money, spreading across the country trying to roll up opportunities and applications. We’re focused on where we are, northern California, and building a real business."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"So when a motion was called for, [Sonoma Council Member Amy] Harrington moved for Justice Grown and SPARC to be approved, which passed unanimously."

Marijuana Business Daily

US cannabis retailers take mixed approaches amid pandemic-fueled downturn, with some eyeing costs and others spending more

By Margaret Jackson
06/11/2020

As the U.S. economy struggles to recover from a recession spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, some cannabis retailers are looking for ways to cut costs while others are ramping up spending on measures to keep their employees and customers safe.

"[SPARC's] new e-commerce platform has made a huge difference for the company, which was in the process of launching the technology before the coronavirus pandemic struck."
"[SPARC's new e-commerce platform] couldn’t have come at a better time. Ninety-five percent of our sales now occur in advance through our website, enabling us to keep in-store labor costs from skyrocketing out of control."
Robbie Rainin
VP of Retail, SPARC
"[SPARC's] executive team voluntarily took a pay cut and the company’s owners suspended their salaries indefinitely to ensure its team members on the front lines would be impacted as little as possible."

Rolling Stone

Weed Dispensaries, Destroyed and Looted in Late-Night Unrest, Face Uncertain Future

Cannabis dispensaries across the country have been ransacked by possible looters — though many say the thievery seems more organized

By Mary Jane Gibson
06/10/2020

Cannabis dispensaries across the country have been ransacked by possible looters — though many say the thievery seems more organized. Cannabis shops that were broken into during the last weekend of May in the wave of civil unrest following the... read more

"San Francisco dispensary Sparc also released a statement in solidarity with protestors after several of its stores were robbed: 'Sparc fully supports the public’s right to freedom of speech, and respects the right to protest in response to the murder of George Floyd.'"

Bay Area Reporter

Bay Area Cannasseur: Furloughs, layoffs hit cannabis industry

By Sari Staver
06/03/2020

Although San Francisco cannabis industry leaders breathed a sigh of relief when the city reversed itself to allow dispensaries to stay open and operate as essential businesses after the stay-at-home order was issued in mid-March, layoffs and... read more

"SPARC said the company has seen a huge shift to online ordering, although customers are able to shop in person, one at a time for physical distancing. SPARC has also 'beefed up' its website, emphasizing online ordering."
Michael Bostarr
Director of Strategy & Implementation, SPARC

mg Magazine

Cannabis Dispensaries Looted as Protests Sweep American Cities

By Joanne Cachapero
06/01/2020

Cannabis dispensaries in several states fell victim to vandalism and looting over the weekend as protests erupted across the United States in the wake of charges filed Friday in the case of George Floyd, whose brutal death occurred May 25, while in... read more

"In San Francisco on Saturday night a crowd of vandals smashed the window at cannabis dispensary Sparc located at 473 Haight Street, as well as nearby businesses including a CVS drugstore. The store announced on its Instagram that it would close its three San Francisco locations (SOMA, Haight St., and The Love Shack) until further notice, out of an abundance of caution."

Marijuana Business Daily

Burglars, vandals hit cannabis businesses during protests, likely causing tens of thousands of dollars in losses

By John Schroyer
06/01/2020

Weekend protests over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota came with a cost for marijuana retailers in various states, where a number of MJ shops were vandalized or burglarized by looters. Several business owners told Marijuana Business Daily they... read more

"...Sparc decided to close its three San Francisco shops Monday 'in order to ensure our employees, customers and community are safe during these tremendously painful times,' according to a company news release. 'The valid anger being displayed during the protests has manifested in the form of broken windows, theft and other dangerous activities, making it difficult to operate our stores' safely, the company noted."

hoodline

At least 3 Lower Haight businesses vandalized Saturday night

By Teresa Hammerl
05/31/2020

At least three businesses at Haight and Fillmore streets were damaged by vandals last night, as the downtown protests against the police killing of George Floyd spread into more residential areas of the city. Around midnight, neighbors say, a group... read more

"Sparc posted on Instagram that it would be temporarily closing all its locations out of safety concerns over the protests. 'We hope to return to servicing the community safely again soon, and remain steadfast in our support of dismantling systems that have disproportionately impacted communities of color,' Sparc wrote."

Weedmaps

Here are the brands and products supporting LGBTQ organizations for Pride

By Lindsay MaHarry
05/29/2020

The celebration and support of Pride holds a special place in the cannabis community. Due to the tireless efforts of HIV/AIDS activists who dedicated their lives advocating for the medical potential of cannabis, Proposition 215 was passed in 1996.... read more

"SPARC, a long-trusted cannabis company based in San Francisco, launched its compassion program in the early 2000s at the Maitri AIDS Hospice. To this day, the company delivers free cannabis products to AIDS patients twice a month."

Sonoma Valley Sun

Open for business, kind of

By Val Robichaud
05/27/2020

Now that the C-19 reopening has begun, you can sit six feet away from your friends at an outdoor restaurant, drive 30 minutes to take a 20-minute walk, and attend a 99 person-or-less protest. Coming soon, if things continue to loosen up, haircuts... read more

"In a Cannabis Idol scenario, Sparc is one of five finalists for the city of Sonoma’s first, lone dispensary permit. The decision is coming soon."

KQED

Ineligible for Federal Relief, California's Legal Cannabis Businesses Hit Hard by Pandemic

By Holly McDede
05/27/2020

Ramon Garcia, who runs an Oakland-based cannabis distribution and delivery company called Padre Mu, grew up surrounded by cannabis. A second-generation cultivator, he’s been in the volatile business for decades. “I’ve been doing this in my... read more


Sonoma Index-Tribune

Council to review 5 dispensary ‘finalists’

By Sari Staver
05/25/2020

And then there were five. The competition to grab the brass ring of the Sonoma cannabis dispensary challenge will enter its next phase this week when the five finalists for the coveted Commercial Cannabis Business license go before the Sonoma City... read more

"We have a design aesthetic that has evolved since we opened our flagship store in San Francisco in 2012. It would be that same design team, and look and feel."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"From my perspective it should be really difficult to come in from outside and open up (a dispensary) when you've got existing businesses and operators and employees. Local, local, local is always the name of the game."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Forbes

Five Questions With Erich Pearson, The Deeply Compassionate CEO Of SPARC

By Warren Bobrow
04/28/2020

Years ago when I was working in the rum business I would rely upon the good nature of fellow bartenders who had their medical cannabis cards in California. One of the places that always was on my must-visit list is the formerly medical only... read more

"Enter the purposefully designed front door [of SPARC's SOMA location] and enter a domain that could easily be mistaken for an Apple Store. The lines are Danish in design, crisp and well lit with smiling, knowledgeable staff members."
"All of our cannabis is outdoor grown in the highly coveted Sonoma Valley. Much of which is grown biodynamically — all activity on the farm is guided by principles of caring for the soil and listening to the land. This high quality flower is the foundation for all of our other products produced in our manufacturing facility in Santa Rosa."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"We’re working on an expansion at our estate farm, and changing local policy to allow us to offer an immersive experience - including onsite sales, tours, and cannabis tasting similar to a winery."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"We are also putting the finishing touches on a new B2B service leveraging our operational expertise with complete turnkey retail management services for dispensaries in California."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"I served on the San Francisco Cannabis Tax Force for three years, helped start the Sonoma County Cannabis Business Association, and remain an active and engaged member of the community at the local level."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"Our goal is to make Sonoma County the most approachable jurisdiction to cultivate cannabis outdoors."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"With new brands, retailers, and companies coming into the market all the time, the largest aspect that keeps SPARC differentiated is our legacy of 10+ years serving the community."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Benzinga

Dispensary Execs On Cannabis Delivery During Coronavirus: 'A Lasting Shift In Consumer Behavior'

By Andrew Ward
04/27/2020

As regulations have shifted around cannabis delivery as a result of stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic, there is optimism that aspects of the new market could outlast the virus. Chris Melillo, SVP of retail for Curaleaf Holdings... read more

"We believe retailers will need to provide a more immersive and engaging online experience, complemented with quick pickup or delivery services because we see this as a lasting shift in consumer behavior."
Michael Bostarr
Director of Strategy & Implementation, SPARC

7x7

The Curated Guide to Cannabis in the Bay Area: Best Dispensaries, Deliveries, Artisan Edibles + More

By Chris Roberts
04/16/2020

Our lives are very different now, but neither the worst pandemic in a century nor economic collapse has the power to cancel a day on the calendar. And so comes April 20th, and with it a cannabis holiday altered almost beyond recognition. Before the... read more

"All orders at all three [San Francisco] locations of SPARC must be submitted online for pickup or delivery. It's worth the extra step..."

Sonoma Index-Tribune

City of Sonoma’s cannabis license process on track

By Christian Kallen
04/16/2020

The City of Sonoma’s process to select two retail cannabis dispensaries to operate in the city limits is underway, and city officials this week announced that 10 cannabis businesses had applied for the two business licenses — one for a... read more

"Another applicant is Sparc, now Sonoma County-based cannabis business which has several California dispensaries — including locations in Sebastopol and Santa Rosa — and a large farming operation in Glen Ellen."

SF Weekly

Cannabis Sales Have Been Helter Skelter During Shelter-In-Place

Buying and selling cannabis has been turned upside down by quarantine orders, odd new delivery rules, and of course, a hand sanitizer shortage

By Joe Kukura
04/09/2020

Buying and selling cannabis has been turned upside down by quarantine orders, odd new delivery rules, and of course, a hand sanitizer shortage. “We had one of our biggest days ever yesterday,” Sparc owner Erich Pearson told us on March 17, the... read more

"We had one of our biggest days ever [on March 17, the first day of shelter-in-place orders in San Francisco]. Delivery was up two-times normal business. In-store pickup was up like 80 percent. Foot traffic in the stores in general was up."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"The hand sanitizer shortage is so severe that some dispensaries have resorted to making their own. Sparc is whipping up their own stash of sanitizer in a lab, and also donated ten gallons of it to San Francisco and Sonoma hospitals."

Black Enterprise

How One Man Utilized Oakland's Social Equity Program to Start a Budding Cannabis Business

By Cedric 'BIG CED' Thornton
04/06/2020

The legalization of cannabis has allowed many people to open up businesses and thrive in the growing industry. The conviction rates for minorities was high, in part, because of marijuana use and selling of the product. Knowing this, Oakland created... read more

"[SPARC] was the first chain dispensary to carry [Peakz]."
Jessie Grundy
Founder, The Peakz Company

SF Weekly

A Week of Blunt Trauma on San Francisco’s Cannabis Scene

The shelter-in-place order sent the local cannabis industry on chaotic five-day bender.

By Joe Kukura
04/01/2020

You probably remember where you were the moment that everything changed. It was not long before noon on Monday, March 16 when word leaked that Mayor London Breed was going to issue a sweeping, unprecedented shelter-in-place order that prohibited San... read more

"I’ve gotten good responses from some supervisors that they’re very concerned about [cannabis dispensaries and cannabis delivery services not being considered essential businesses when San Francisco's shelter-in-place order was initially announced]. I think we’ll see some sort of change in policy today."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Bay Area Reporter

Bay Area Cannasseur: San Francisco cannabis dispensaries adapt

By Sari Staver
04/01/2020

Business is getting back to usual at Bay Area cannabis stores. After initially declaring dispensaries were non-essential when the San Francisco shelter-in-place order went into effect March 17, city health officials and political leaders quickly... read more

"We were lucky to have launched our new delivery and in-store pickup platform online a few months ago. So, we are very busy delivering and doing curbside pickup."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

The Press Democrat

Sonoma County cannabis dispensaries that deliver better positioned during pandemic

By Austin Murphy
03/27/2020

Every adult in Petaluma did not get a delivery of cannabis last week. It only seemed that way to Dave Tohill, a kind of mobile “budtender” for Mercy Wellness, the Cotati-based dispensary. In a single day, Tohill had 40-plus deliveries in... read more


SF Weekly

San Francisco Cannabis Dispensaries Allowed to Reopen After Brief Coronavirus Closure

City says dispensaries provide "essential medicine" during this time

By Joe Kukura
03/17/2020

The sweeping, coronavirus-related shelter-in-place orders across six Bay Area counties are nearly the exact same orders for each county, telling “residents to stay home except for essential needs.” But apparently, “essential needs” were... read more

"Cannabis is an (sic) needed medicine for many San Franciscans and dispensaries are allowed to continue operating."
London Breed
Mayor, San Francisco
"I’ve gotten good responses from some San Francisco supervisors that they’re very concerned about this. I think we’ll see some sort of change in policy today."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"clearly falls into something that would be an ‘essential service.'"
Matt Haney
Supervisor, San Francisco

SF Evergreen

Trimming the Supply

By Joe Kukura
03/11/2020

San Francisco has more dispensaries per square mile than any other major California city. With a current 37 dispensaries open and 41 delivery services operating in our 47-square mile city, that’s twice as many pot retailers per square mile than... read more

"It’s too little, too late. Supervisor Walton is proposing the moratorium in an attempt to stem the ultimate failure of many of the current applicants, and I am doubtful this will prevent that. The city has failed to grasp the economic realities of the program from day one."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

SFist

City Could Consider Freezing Or Curtailing New Cannabis Permits Following Report On Declining Sales

By Jay Barmann
03/09/2020

A new report by the City of San Francisco’s Controller’s Office shows that individual cannabis retailers are seeing declining sales in the two years since full recreational legalization — and that’s due both to there being more permitted stores, and the still flourishing illegal market.

"...as established medical marijuana retailers [SPARC has] done fine since legalization, with steady or slightly increased sales."

San Francisco Chronicle

In San Francisco, cannabis business hasn’t hit the highs expected when it went legal

By Phil Matier
03/08/2020

A sampling of pot products is on display at the California Street Cannabis Co. in San Francisco. High prices, increased competition and a largely unchecked illegal market have taken the bloom off San Francisco’s budding cannabis business.... read more


FORBES

Tasty Selection Of Luxury Cannabis Flowers For Mother’s Day 2020

By Warren Bobrow
03/08/2020

Mother’s Day comes but once a year, so you better not forget your mom! If you have forgotten your mom in prior years, I’m pretty sure you won’t want go through that again, should you forget, yet again. Please, don’t forget your mom! (Or your... read more

"I’m quite fond of the high-end cannabis dispensary named SPARC located in San Francisco. Their home-grown by Marigold, Triple Chocolate Chip is a luscious cross between Mint Chocolate Chip and Triple OG. This is truly IN THE COUCH cannabis that will put your mom down faster than that bong hit you had first thing in the morning. Deep approval for this company. I dig them."

Bay Area Reporter

Bay Area Cannasseur: Compassionate care programs getting into gear

By Sari Staver
03/04/2020

Compassionate care programs are expected to expand locally, following the March 1 start date for Senate Bill 34, the new state law making it easier for organizations to legally donate cannabis to low-income patients. The law, known as the Brownie... read more

"[Sweetleaf Collective founder Joe] Airone said that Sweetleaf has been working with Flow Kana, which donated cannabis, and the LGBT-owned dispensary chain SPARC, which distributed the products to patients. Sweetleaf has been selling lighters for $1 each at all SPARC locations, which has raised over $5,000 toward the overhead of the program."

The Press Democrat

Sonoma County cannabis oil manufacturers seek to ease vaping fears

By Julie Johnson
02/24/2020

When people started getting sick and dying last year in troubling numbers from respiratory problems associated with using vaporizers and electronic cigarette products, staff at Mercy Wellness dispensary in Cotati set aside their projects and put all... read more

"At SPARC’s manufacturing plant in Santa Rosa, cannabis goes through a variety of processes to create the distilled oil put in vape cartridges, said Ryan Emily Sereno, a senior production and research chemist who oversees the company’s manufacturing facility and product development division."

Bohemian

Pushback Time

Meet the Cannabis Business Association of Sonoma County

By Jonah Raskin
02/20/2020

Call them Sonoma County’s best-known marijuana-istas. Erich Pearson, Alexa Wall, Erin Gore, Ron Ferraro and Dennis Hunter are among the most outspoken activists in an industry that long encouraged its members to be faceless and nameless, stay... read more

"We will make Sonoma County the example of sensible cannabis regulation."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Benzinga

The Week In Cannabis: Corporate Turmoil, Mass Layoffs And Stocks In Red

By Javier Hasse
02/09/2020

It was a turbulent week, with both Tilray Inc and Aurora Cannabis Inc announcing mass layoffs, each getting rid of approximately 10% of employees. Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy explained the move was part of a companywide restructuring focused on... read more

"Outgoing [National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA)] board members are: Board Chair A.C. Braddock, Jessica Billingsley, Alex Cooley, Steve DeAngelo, Sean McAllister, and Erich Pearson."

SF Evergreen

Is the Green Rush Over?

By Joe Kukura
02/05/2020

The dirty little secret of the California cannabis industry is that no one’s making as much money as they thought they would. A recent Office of the Controller’s cannabis report shows that after peaking in the second quarter of 2018, local sales... read more

"It’s not the growth that we expected, however we have fairly steady growth after legalization."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"We’re looking at a massive problem [in San Francisco]. Combine [declining sales] with 100 permits coming on and we need a drastic reapproach."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

The Press Democrat

Cannabis companies seek business-friendly rules in Sonoma County

By Julie Johnson
02/02/2020

On a cold night in November, local cannabis entrepreneurs filled the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors’ meeting hall for a public reckoning about a legal marketplace struggling to meet the county’s demands. Steep taxes, expensive environmental... read more

"That’s the goal of this trade association: To lower the barrier to entry in Sonoma County so that we have businesses that can compete on a state level."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Sonoma Index-Tribune

Golden State Salmon Association’s annual dinner is set for Feb. 1 at Viansa Sonoma

01/13/2020

The Golden State Salmon Association’s annual fundraising dinner will honor biodynamic cannabis farmer Erich Pearson, operator of Sparc Farm at Gordenker Ranch in Glen Ellen. The event will take place 5 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 1 at Viansa Sonoma, 25200... read more

"The Golden State Salmon Association’s annual fundraising dinner will honor biodynamic cannabis farmer Erich Pearson, operator of Sparc Farm at Gordenker Ranch in Glen Ellen... Pearson is a biodynamic cannabis farmer whose sustainable farming practices help keep the local watershed clean; he is also an avid salmon supporter."

The Press Democrat

Sonoma County supervisors OK changes to speed up cannabis farm reviews

By Julie Johnson
12/17/2019

Sonoma County supervisors Tuesday voted to streamline approvals for cannabis farms to address the county’s struggle to permit commercial pot cultivation three years after Californians voted to legalize it. Supervisors acknowledged the... read more

"We're big believers that cannabis can add a lot of economic activity to Sonoma County and can help the economy."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Sonoma Index-Tribune

Sonoma City Council pushes forward on pot dispensaries

By Jason Walsh
12/04/2019

Sonoma city officials forged ahead with plans to license two cannabis dispensaries within the town limits, as City Council members on Monday mapped out a timeline and process for fielding proposals from potential pot-shop operators. If all goes to... read more

"Requiring an applicant to have a location will likely result in an out-of-state operator who can afford to pay unreasonable rent, the result of a bidding war over a few available properties. This will not result in the city of Sonoma getting an operator with local ties and values."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

mg Magazine

SPARC Joy: Metrc Compliance Automated Across All 5 Dispensaries with Treez

By Treez
10/30/2019

Every cannabis software company says they “integrate with Metrc.” If you’ve heard it during a sales pitch, it sounds easy. But what does that really mean? Is it even possible to have an easy migration and go live without a hitch? What do the... read more

"SPARC is a sophisticated operator that put in the work and made hard decisions to set themselves up for Metrc success from Day 1."
"It all starts with strong inventory practices and policies. Our team has always kept our process organized, which ensures each count goes smooth."
Robbie Rainin
VP of Retail, SPARC

Bohemian

Hash Isn't for the Timid

The marijuana-derived product has its own aficionados

By Jonah Raskin
10/23/2019

Hash, the smoke, isn’t for the timid. Soldiers in Napoleon’s army brought it from Egypt to Europe, where it caught on fast. In 19th-century France, every self-respecting writer used the concentrated extract and belonged to “The... read more

"SPARC in Santa Rosa carries a wide variety of hash from different companies, and has very knowledgeable 'member consultants.'"
Josh
22 year-old Santa Rosa–native
"At SPARC, Eric McNiel is the guy to go to if you want to sell hash, or learn how it's made. There are many different methods, McNiel explains, including the old-school method where ice and water are added to marijuana and then agitated in a washing machine or cement mixer."

Sonoma Index-Tribune

Glen Ellen bio-pot farmer to be saluted at salmon soiree

10/14/2019

Erich Pearson, the biodynamic cannabis farmer who operates Sparc Farm in Glen Ellen, will be feted by the Golden State Salmon Association at the group’s annual salmon dinner on Nov. 16. The group chose Pearson as its 2019 honoree due to the way... read more

"The [Golden State Salmon Association] chose Pearson as its 2019 honoree due to the way such biodynamic farming practices – which parallel many organic farming methods – can help local watersheds remain 'sustainable and clean.'"
"We are thrilled to honor Erich this year and he rightfully joins other Sonoma water stewards including Sam Sebastiani, Mike Benziger, Phil Coturri, the Mulas family and Grant Davis."
John McManus
President, Golden State Salmon Association

Benzinga

Leafly, 4Front Ventures, Weedmaps, Others Lobby For Marijuana Descheduling In Wake Of Vaping Crisis

By Nina Zdinjak
10/03/2019

More than 800 cannabis companies have signed a letter asking Congress to deschedule marijuana, Marijuana Moment reported Thursday. The letter submitted to House and Senate leadership Thursday said the vaping situation demands strict federal... read more

"Among those 800 and more signatures are some big names in the industry, such as...SPARC."

Marijuana Moment

Hundreds Of Companies Sign Letter Calling For Marijuana Descheduling To Prevent Vaping Injuries

By Kyle Jaeger
10/03/2019

More than 800 cannabis industry leaders have signed onto a letter urging Congress to deschedule marijuana to mitigate the risks associated with vaping products obtained on the illicit market. Led by the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), the letter being delivered to House and Senate leadership on Thursday argues that the recent spate of vaping-related lung injuries and deaths demonstrates the need for robust federal regulations that aren’t available because marijuana remains a federally controlled substance. It notes that a majority of these medical issues appear to be the result of using adulterated, unregulated products.

"NCIA and its co-signers—including representatives of firms such as...SPARC...—argued that the public 'needs accurate and actionable information from the government, particularly about illegal, untested, and dangerous illicit market consumer products.'"

Cannabis Dispensary

Cannabis Goes Social With On-Site Consumption Spaces in U.S. Markets

By Debby Goldsberry
09/24/2019

Consuming cannabis has long been a social activity. An ancient nomadic tribe called the Scythians built fire pits that they used to burn cannabis for ceremonial purposes. In the 1960s and 1970s, hippies smoked while standing in circles to tell stories, laugh and share ideas. Even throughout the height of prohibition, in the 1980s and 1990s, people shared cannabis at concerts and “smoke-ins.” Which clearly brings up a problem with most of the current cannabis legalization laws: There’s no place to smoke it but home. This means every consumer, including tourists, in a legal market is supposed to figure out how to get or give an invitation to someone’s private home. Awkward.


The Press Democrat

Cannabis tourism seeks broader stage, but encounters obstacles in Wine Country

Industry experts predict pot experiences may become top draw for region Cannabis will one day be on the list of top draws for North Coast visitors, many in the industry say. Entrepreneurs putting down stakes in the region's nascent legal industry are banking on it. But big obstacles remain.

By Julie Johnson
08/23/2019

A civil engineer, an insurance broker, a steel vessel manufacturer, two educators and a slew of people from the wine, shipping and tech industries lined up on a hot August morning to get onto a tour bus outside the Hyatt Regency hotel in Santa Rosa.... read more

"Erich Pearson, founder of the SPARC dispensaries in San Francisco and Sonoma County, said he hopes someday to host visitors to the organic and biodyamic farms near Glen Ellen that provide much of the product on his dispensary shelves."
"Tourism is essential to the survival of cannabis businesses in Sonoma County. And it's in the county's best interest - they should be embracing this from an economic perspective."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Vice

Joe Biden Is Coming for Your Legal Weed

The former VP and 2020 candidate's plan for cannabis is the industry's worst nightmare: It could blow up the system across the country

By Chris Roberts
08/05/2019

No one person created America’s war on drugs. No individual is responsible for the accompanying manufactured crises of mass incarceration and impoverishment of working class communities of color. But in the same shamed strata as Richard Nixon... read more

"[Schedule II] would still present a conflict with the existing state medical and adult-use cannabis programs that are on the books in 47 states."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

The Press Democrat

California's sluggish legal cannabis industry could get jump-start with tax cuts

By Julie Johnson
07/24/2019

After a disappointing year for cannabis sales and tax revenues in California, a group of lawmakers and the state treasurer are proposing to temporarily slash taxes for marijuana businesses to stimulate the industry. Growers and sellers had warned... read more

"This legislation is much needed. All taxes, regardless of where they are in the supply chain, pass through to the consumer. So reducing either cultivation, retail or a combination of both will drive more consumers to the legal market."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"Legal businesses are 'mired in regulatory and compliance costs' and the tax burden is disproportionately burdensome for those growing marijuana outside rather than in warehouses that can generate numerous harvests throughout the year, [SPARC Founder & CEO Erich] Pearson said."

The Grass Agency

Sparc SoMa: Compassionate use in an adult-use world

By Christopher Trout
07/17/2019

On paper, Sparc reads like our dream dispensary. It offers in-store recycling programs, supports the city’s equity initiative, champions compassionate use, and sells biodynamic flower grown on its own farms. After more than a decade as a collective, Sparc (formerly known as the San Francisco Patient and Resource Center) opened its first dispensary on Mission St. in 2010. Today, the company operates four additional adult-use dispensaries across San Francisco, Santa Rosa, and Sebastopol and grows its own herb at a certified, biodynamic farm in Sonoma County. Despite the shift to adult use in 2018, Sparc has kept the spirit of the medical marijuana movement alive.

"On paper, Sparc reads like our dream dispensary. It offers in-store recycling programs, supports the city’s equity initiative, champions compassionate use, and sells biodynamic flower grown on its own farms."
"Also on Sparc’s agenda: uplifting communities disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs... Not only has Sparc registered with the city as an equity incubator, it’s also dedicated shelf space to [social] equity participants, and provided employment opportunities to applicants 'disproportionately impacted by the criminalization of cannabis.'"
"...Sparc is the pot shop the 21st century deserves."
"We went into Sparc with little knowledge of its history and few expectations. It wasn’t until after our trip that we learned of its rich history and commitment to sustainability, equity, and marijuana as medicine."

San Jose Inside

Canna Cycle Aims to Reduce Waste in the World of Weed

By Tom Gogola and Matt Weir
07/15/2019

Not-so-green cannabis industry packaging waste is taking its toll on the environment. When JJ Kaplan was a supervisor for the Bay Area–based cannabis collective SPARC, he saw a lot of trash headed for the garbage bin. “I would see boxes of... read more

"SPARC...has pledged to be an industry leader in finding solutions to the pot-waste phenomenon."

Bohemian

Pot Stickler

There's nothing sustainable about vape pens or pot packaging

By Tom Gogola & Matt Weir
07/10/2019

Not So Green Cannabis industry packaging waste is taking its toll on the environment. Waste Not SPARC dispensary’s recycling bins have been filling up quickly since they implemented a recycling program. When JJ Kaplan was a supervisor for the... read more

"SPARC...has pledged to be an industry leader in finding solutions to the pot-waste phenomenon."

Sierra

A Higher Cause: Is It Possible to Consume Organic Cannabis?

By Katie O'Reilly
04/20/2019

Thanks to its leafy branding and hippie endorsement, cannabis has long enjoyed an earthy, au naturel image. The vast majority of weed sold, however, isn’t grown in any sort of sun-dappled Eden. With global sales expected to hit $16.9 billion in 2019, cannabis has become a massive industry, much of which relies on indoor, energy-intensive growing; heavy doses of pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, and rodenticides; and often, drug cartels. The dire effects of cannabis cultivation on waterways, forest soils, and human rights have been well documented, meaning Whole Foods acolytes should be hip to the fact that your average puff of pot isn’t clean, green, or remotely organic.

"Sonoma County’s SPARC Farm is one of around 40 certified farms that grow cannabis with a cover crop (because monocultures are antithetical to biodynamic principles, you can’t get biodynamic certification if you only grow cannabis). And according to SPARC CEO Erich Pearson, conscious farmers are increasingly embracing 'beyond organic' certification."
"Organic has been watered down by big corporations to not mean what it used to mean."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

SF Evergreen

The Love Shack Is Back! (It’s Now Called ‘The Love Shack by SPARC’)

Hop in your Chrysler that's as big as a whale, because the Mission's Love Shack by SPARC dispensary just set sail again after a one-year hiatus

By Joe Kukura
03/07/2019

Some of San Francisco’s very first dispensaries were around before medical-marijuana cards even existed. One of those shuttered legacy dispensaries has returned. The Love Shack is back after closing in March 2018, now under the slightly revised... read more

"Re-established at the corner of 14th and Guerrero streets, the Love Shack by SPARC is a little old place that’s literally both little and old. The retail space feels as small as the tiniest San Francisco studio apartment, but it has operated there as the Love Shack since way back in 2002."
"We wanted to embrace the history and the character that it had in the neighborhood. We had a lot of folks walking by when we were putting down the new mural on the floor, jumping up and down, happy to see us here."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"It may not be the biggest dispensary in San Francisco, but the whole Shack shimmies with a sense of local cannabis history."

SFist

The 11 Best Marijuana Stores in SF

03/01/2019

The days of shady doctors prescribing medical marijuana cards for stubbed toes or back pain are essentially over in San Francisco. You can now walk into a cannabis store that looks like Sickbay on the Star Trek Enterprise simply by being over 21 and providing valid ID. Inside, you might find fanciful treats like Madame Munchies weed-infused macaroons or herbal treatments such as Flour Child’s Topical Rub. But one thing is for certain, you will be amazed by the variety and attention to detail that these locations give you. What’s more is you don’t even have to leave your home, as marijuana delivery in San Francisco is also now a viable option.

"SPARC on Mission offers a more medicinal vibe in an Apple Store-like setting with a flameless lounge complete with volcano vaporizers which you can rent for 'medicating.'"
"SPARC recently opened its newest location in the Mission, taking over the beloved Love Shack on 14th Street — one of the oldest operating dispensaries in California."

Bay Area Reporter

Love Shack dispensary reopens

By Sari Staver
02/20/2019

The Mission district’s longtime cannabis dispensary, Love Shack, which closed nearly a year ago, has re-opened by the gay-owned and -operated retail chain, SPARC. Love Shack was launched in 2002 by Chris Montana at 14th and Guerrero streets.... read more

"Love Shack is SPARC's fifth location in the Bay Area. It has three outlets in San Francisco, one in Santa Rosa, and one in Sebastopol."

TimeOut

The best weed dispensaries in San Francisco

Stock up on buds, edibles, and vaporizers at these top weed dispensaries in San Francisco

By Lauren Sheber
02/06/2019

The Bay Area has always been a hotbed for scoring high-quality weed. But ever since California legalized the beloved herb, the city’s pot scene has exploded (there was even a Grass Land at Outside Lands last year). San Francisco weed dispensaries... read more

"Sparc founder Erich Pearson is responsible for bringing California’s farm-to-table ethos to weed. He runs one of the largest legal cannabis farms in Sonoma County, with an emphasis on biodynamic, organic, and sustainable growing methods."
"[Sparc founder Erich Pearson's] pair of dispensaries have rightfully been deemed the 'Apple of pot shops,' thanks to its AIA Award-winning look: white walls, blond wood communal tables, warm lighting."

Leafly

Photos: Cannabis Goes Beyond Organic in California’s Wine Country

By David Downs
01/11/2019

More and more consumers want cannabis grown under full sun, in the soil, using organic nutrients. They think it tastes and feels better than lamp-grown, synthetically fertilized plants grown indoors. Meeting that demand is a new generation of... read more

"[SPARC's] historic Demeter cannabis harvest caps an extraordinary journey for SPARC’s affiliate farm, Terra Luna. Both SPARC and Terra Luna survived the dual apocalypses of wildfire, and then California licensing, to serve customers today."
"[In October 2018], SPARC founder Erich Pearson and Terra Luna owner Joey Ereneta defied evacuation orders to save lives and property in the raging Nun’s Fire an hour north of San Francisco."
"SPARC founder Erich Pearson has survived not only the brutal transition from medical cannabis to recreational in the brutal market of San Francisco. Wildfire tested his renegade spirit in 2017."
"Biodynamic cannabis farming, with its emphasis on good health, natural inputs and cycles, and honoring the Earth, is the best way to grow this healing plant. It’s not easy to grow this way, but it is simple, because it most closely mimics what nature would do itself. The result is a clean, flavorful cannabis with extraordinary powers."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"SPARC worked to pioneer biodynamic certification for cannabis since 2015."

San Francisco Chronicle

‘Death by a thousand cuts:’ California’s first year of legalized pot is no smooth trip

By Peter Fimrite
12/28/2018

The legal marijuana market, so long a twinkle in the eye of the cannabis cognoscenti, has hit hard times in California, where high prices, red tape and competition from the black market have cast a pall over what was supposed to be a triumphant... read more

"Erich Pearson, the founder of the San Francisco Patient and Resource Center, or SPARC, the largest cannabis retail shop in the city, believes cannabis commerce will eventually reach equilibrium and begin to look more like the beer and wine industries."
"If you look at alcohol, you see there is still an appreciation for small-batch products, so I think you’ll see that. Unfortunately right now the regulations are just too much for the smaller businesses. A lot of them will have to go away and come back later."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Bay Area Reporter

Bay Area Cannasseur: Cannabis gifts sure to light up the holidays

By Sari Staver
12/05/2018

As we begin the first holiday season with legal cannabis, shelves are stocked with dozens of new gizmos for the pot aficionado on your list. We checked with the Apothecarium’s boutique manager Marcella Sanchez, who said the retailer’s... read more

"SPARC, owned by gay cannabis entrepreneur Erich Pearson, also has a number of perfect stocking stuffers..."

The Press Democrat

Sonoma County 2018 cannabis harvest small, but much better than last year

By Julie Johnson
11/27/2018

A cloudy summer and an early rain hampered Sonoma County’s 2018 outdoor cannabis haul, but the mood remained optimistic among growers one year after major wildfires marred the newly regulated crop’s harvest. By this time in the growing season,... read more

"[SPARC Founder & CEO Erich] Pearson said the 2018 harvest is a bright spot for SPARC, which already has put two strains of biodynamic cannabis onto dispensary shelves — black light and purple punch."
"The quality was great this year."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Valley of the Moon Magazine

The Future of Sonoma Valley Ag?

By Jonah Raskin
11/16/2018

There isn’t a family in Sonoma Valley that doesn’t have a family tree, though some families have deeper roots than others. The Gordenkers’ family history in Sonoma Valley goes back to 1885, when Olga and Vladimir arrived from Russia, rolled up their shirtsleeves, went to work and didn’t look back. Family legend has it that one Gordenker made brandy during Prohibition. Other family members were renowned for the turkeys they raised—upward of 40,000 birds at any given time. Until 1998, Gordenker turkey eggs traveled to Italy, Israel and beyond. Not surprisingly, the Gordenkers celebrated Thanksgiving four times a year. Still other family members excavated shale, known as “Nun’s Canyon Gold,” from the quarry of that name on the property. The Nun’s Canyon quarry is still in operation, though now there’s a new kind of “gold” on Gordenkers’ land. It’s green, it gets you high and it fetches $500 a pound. Some Gordenker neighbors don’t like marijuana nearby. They complain about the smell and worry that it will corrupt kids, but no one has confronted any Gordenker about their newest cash crop. “They don’t have the balls,” one Gordenker says. The family matriarch, Leonor Gordenker, is 93. The youngest, Paxton Gendall, is just a year old. Some family members, such as Sylvia Bernard and her daughter, Michele Gendall, don’t have the legendary Gordenker last name, but they have a fierce attachment to the land and to the past. At the same time, they’re future-oriented, and have created space for outsiders to raise livestock, keep beehives, grow row crops and cultivate marijuana, which is new to Gordenkers but has been grown illegally in the Valley since the 1960s. Are Olga and Vladimir rolling in their graves? That’s a question that Gordenkers have been asking themselves lately. Michele and her New Zealand-born husband, Tom Gendall—who makes wine at Cline and Jacuzzi—aren’t going into the marijuana business. They’ll leave that to SPARC dispensary CEO Erich Pearson and Joey Ereñeta who are both licensed cannabis professionals. But they want to open a tasting room where they can pour their own cabernet sauvignon from grapes harvested at the vineyard Phil Coturri planted on the ranch years ago. Right now, Tom and Michele—who studied viticulture and enology in New Zealand, where they met in 2008—don’t have the wherewithal for a tasting room. Along with everyone else on the land, they’re in rebuild and regroup mode.BeWellFarms02_4.6_2018_p_SK5433-missy-and-Austin-pumkin-patch-683×1024 During the October 2017 wildfires, the Gordenkers lost barns, houses, fencing, wells and a fleet of tractors. And Erich Pearson lost most of his marijuana crop, though not his dreams. “The fires cut through like a knife,” Michele says. Adds husband Tom, “The way the family has worked together after the fires, to ensure everyone gets back on their feet, is humbling.” Several Gordenker tenants were hit by the fires. Bryan Tedrick, the well-known sculptor, lost his workshop. Gilham Erickson, who makes artisan marble carvings, lost his home. At Daylight Vineyard Management, the fires destroyed Daniel Chavez’ warehouse and equipment. They’re all getting back on their feet. In October, Tom Gendall harvested his grapes, while Pearson and Ereñeta harvested their marijuana and helped make pipe dreams come true. Pioneering biodynamic winemaker, vegetable farmer and marijuana cultivator, Mike Benziger knows Sonoma Valley as well, if not better than, anyone. “The Gordenkers own the last piece of big property in the Valley,” he says. “They’re land rich and money poor. I hope there isn’t family squabbling and dividing it up.” Benziger adds that Pearson, who grows world-class, biodymanic marijuana on the Gordenker property, “has been a godsend.” Pearson isn’t the only godsend. The Gordenkers have also made room for Austin and Melinda (“Missy”) Lely. At “Bee-Well Farm,” their cheerfully visible plot right on Highway 12, they cultivate organic vegetables, raise free-range chickens and a herd of cows. This fall, Bee-Well pumpkins were displayed on the corner of Highway 12 and Trinity Road, where fires raged last October. Recently, a San Francisco TV-station broadcast a story about the Lelys that claimed, “They are doing it all themselves.” In fact, no one on the Gordenker property does “it” alone. Machines and tools go from hand to hand, skills are shared and there are community dinners. Cooperation is the order of the day. Pearson grows an acre of Demeter-certified marijuana near the back of the property. Demeter certification means that the cannabis is pure and natural and as expertly cultivated as any cannabis in California. There are no contaminates. Pearson also buys and sells the marijuana that Joey Ereñeta grows at Terra Luna Farms, near the front of the Gordenkers’ property. A veteran pot grower and the lead horticulturalist at Oaksterdam University, Ereñeta calls himself a “perfectionist” and aims for perfect cannabis. Like Ereñeta and Benziger, Pearson is an apostle for organic, biodynamic cannabis. The two men are the most visible cannabis farmers, pot enthusiasts and pot entrepreneurs in Sonoma Valley, which has a dry climate near perfect for cannabis. County authorities may be hoping the Pearson pot farm model prevails, because large illegal grows on the flanks of the Mayacamas Mountains have done considerable ecological damage. No one at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which aims to monitor cannabis cultivation, knows how much pot is cultivated in Sonoma, or any of the other 50 counties in a state where marijuana is still in transition from an illegal to a legal market.BeWell01_4.6_2018_p98_SK2784-Erich-Pearson-interview Rebecca Forée, the communications manager with CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing at the Department of Food & Agriculture, said in an email, “It is not possible to calculate an exact total for the state, or even by county.” Besides leasing his one-acre Gordenker plot, Pearson is CEO and president at SPARC, which owns and operates dispensaries in San Francisco, Santa Rosa and Sebastopol that provide a steady revenue stream. At first glance, his relationship with the Gordenkers looks like it was made in agricultural heaven. But while the arrangement is mutually beneficial, it didn’t have instant karma written all over it. Some family members were reluctant to climb aboard Pearson’s marijuana wagon, though Sylvia Bernard, who spent time in the counterculture, says, “I wanted marijuana on our property for a long time.” When Pearson showed up with cash, eager to lease land and grow cannabis, it was a no-brainer for Bernard. Pearson didn’t look and act like a pothead and he told good stories. “From the time I was in middle school in Indiana, I had a landscape business and mowed lawns,” Pearson says. “I grew marijuana, too, though my mother threw away my first crop. Now she says, ‘You’ve gone from cutting grass to growing grass.’” He adds, “My mother has bailed me out of jail.” Indeed, like many people who cultivated cannabis before it was legal, Pearson has been arrested and placed behind bars, although the state of California now allows local district attorneys to expunge some of those records. For Sylvia’s daughter, Michele, the idea of marijuana on Gordenker land didn’t sit well. “Letting Erich in and giving him undeveloped, naked land, that was hard,” Michele says. “It meant letting in a stranger. I didn’t want marijuana in a certain area and Erich did. He won.” Pearson can be persuasive and so can the money. The land-rich, money-poor Gordenkers need cash to pay county property taxes and stay afloat. No Gordenker has Silicon Valley money or a trust fund. Michele and her husband, Tom, both work, as does Sylvia, who manages the Gordenker properties, balances the books and sells real estate. She calls herself, “the watchdog.” Despite her initial reluctance, Michele might be called “the voice of the future.” “Marijuana takes up fewer square feet than grapes and makes more money per square foot,” she explains. “Grapes are harvested once a year. Indoor marijuana can be harvested three times a year. When Erich has money we have money.” In fact, the Gordenkers are building Pearson a greenhouse with a Swedish design. He wants to have a marijuana manufacturing center on the property, though Tennis Wick, director of the Sonoma County Department of Permit & Resource Management (PRMD), hasn’t yet given him a green light. Michele and Sylvia are as close as mother and daughter can be, though they don’t always express themselves in the same way when they discuss Pearson and marijuana. “It’s about money,” Sylvia says. Without missing a beat, Michele adds, “It’s about ag.” Pearson sees marijuana as the future for the Gordenkers and Sonoma Valley. “Cannabis can be an economic engine,” he says. “One acre can pay the bills and enable farms to be diverse agriculturally. In one to two years, we hope to rely on pot tourism and direct sales.” Recently, when a visitor to the Gordenker property observed to Pearson that he was the CEO of a highly profitable corporation and not a back-to-the-land hippie, he looked out at the cannabis still to be harvested. “Yes, we’re a corporation, but we’re not like Salinas, and we can’t compete with Salinas,” he said. “We have to stay small, produce a high-quality product and offer variety to consumers.” Michele, Sylvia and the whole extended Gordenker family—including Austin and Missy at Bee-Well Farm—want Pearson to succeed. “None of us is interested in selling our land; not yet,” Michele says. “But having land that doesn’t make money, that kills you.” She turned to Paxton, her 1-year-old, and said, “You’re going to grow up, build fences and drive tractors.”

"From the time I was in middle school in Indiana, I had a landscape business and mowed lawns. I grew marijuana, too, though my mother threw away my first crop. Now she says, ‘You’ve gone from cutting grass to growing grass.’"
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Sonoma Index-Tribune

Annual cannabis harvest underway in Northern California as pot economy transitions

By Julie Johnson
10/12/2018

The pungent smell of cannabis planted on this west-facing hillside in the Sonoma Valley mixed with the odors of damp volcanic soil, aromatic pine and cattle musk from a herd watching over a calf crying for its mother. A five-person farm crew cut... read more

"Erich Pearson, SPARC’s founder and executive director, said he could find a more affordable place to grow cannabis than this bucolic valley surrounded by regenerating forests and parcel after parcel of vineyards. Instead, he’s attempting to create a taste for high-end, biodynamic cannabis infused with the unique terroir of this Glen Ellen area hillside."
"When I look at this, I think about the brand we’re building."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

ABC 7

Cannabis grower rebuilds after devastating Nuns Fire

By Dan Ashley and Ken Miguel
10/08/2018

The Nuns Fire started in the early evening on Oct. 8, tearing through Glen Ellen. This isn’t just wine country, it’s also home to a growing number of cannabis farms. A year later, they too are still rebuilding. One year ago, Erich Pearson woke up to a firestorm. Flames tore through Glen Ellen in Sonoma County. It reduced homes to ashes, and turned farms into wastelands. Pearson had just harvested his cannabis crop. It was completely destroyed. Now, things look much different.

"One year ago, [SPARC Founder & CEO] Erich Pearson woke up to a firestorm. Flames tore through Glen Ellen in Sonoma County. It reduced homes to ashes, and turned farms into wastelands. Pearson had just harvested his cannabis crop. It was completely destroyed."
"Back on track. We're back at it. We've spent quite a bit of time since last October putting things back together."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"Pearson isn't new to the cannabis industry, he's founder of SPARC, a cannabis company that has provided safely grown cannabis for medical patients since 1998."
"...it's not easy, but I don't think that anybody signs up for this industry thinks it is going to be very easy... it's been sort of a double whammy - it's been a bit of a challenge."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"[SPARC Founder & CEO Erich] Pearson says the big, beautiful buds are flourishing, and this year's harvest is looking good, despite growing in the shadows of last year's blaze."
"We want to have public access to this farm, we want to have educational tours, we want folks to come here and purchase cannabis one day, much like a winery, so this is a long term plan."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Leafly

A Day in the Life of a Cannabis Lounge

By David Downs
09/06/2018

The morning sun barely clears the Berkeley hills east of the San Francisco Bay today, yet the Volcano vaporizers are already warm at the public cannabis lounges across the region. Over at Barbary Coast Collective on Mission St. in San Francisco, the... read more

"When the doors open at 9 a.m. over at SPARC lounge on Mission St., lawyers and pensioners alike stand in line to show their ID, pick up a grinder, and sit down to hit Volcano bags. Some stop by before their shifts at work. Others come straight from government housing where federal laws prohibit medical cannabis use."

Sonoma Index-Tribune

Valley Forum: Cannabis advocate Erich Pearson calls for compromise

By Erich Pearson
08/13/2018

The town of Sonoma is sometimes called “the Island,” referring to our slight geographic isolation and unique civic character. The truth, of course, is that this town is no more an island than is any one person. Yet recent actions around the... read more

"It’s time to allow Sonoma voters to decide upon local dispensaries and it’s more than time for politicians and signature seekers to find the middle ground on an issue that most of Sonoma County has worked so hard to manage."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"It’s pretty simple. Cannabis needs to be legal in Sonoma. Due process needs to be respected in Sonoma. Threats are not tolerated in Sonoma."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"As the founder and CEO of the SPARC family of dispensaries, I’ve been at the forefront of the tough work of reimagining old limits. As someone who has applied for and received many licenses to grow and sell - including for another farm I hope to steward in Glen Ellen - I know that it’s not easy and it’s not cheap. I also know how rewarding it is to find the balance between community needs and community standards. Working with the process, in the spirit of the process, is how we make change possible - not with cowardly backpedaling or violent insinuations."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

NBC Bay Area

Burned Out Marijuana Farm Fires Up Rebuilding

By Joe Rosato Jr.
08/07/2018

Even with tubs once again filled with bright green leafy marijuana, there was ample evidence all around of the devastating fires that consumed the SPARC marijuana farm in Glen Ellen last October, wiping out the company’s first cannabis crop just... read more

"[The SPARC Farm] took quite a hit. We lost 95 percent of the cannabis we harvested that season."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"The ground was still smoldering early last October when Pearson made a pledge to rebuild."
"This crop is gorgeous this year. We’ve done a really great job so far of rebuilding this field."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"I think this business sort of comes with — you don’t quite understand what’s around the corner the next day."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

San Francisco Chronicle

Cheap cannabis products available before new California rules kick in

By Peter Fimrite
06/27/2018

A bonanza of cheap marijuana is flooding the market this week as growers, manufacturers and retailers unload excess cannabis in preparation for the enforcement of strict testing and packaging regulations that are sure to further shake up... read more

"I suspect we’ll have a shortage for a while until distributors get their testing figured out. We’ll see limited supplies of brands and products, and probably lesser quantities, too. This at a time when we’re reaching the time of year when the highest demand for cannabis products is in the summer months."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"The black market is so large, and the taxes and regulations are so hard, that until the state decides to take action against the black market, it will remain a very robust and profitable business for those who participate in it. The over-regulation and taxation creates a very attractive alternative for consumers."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

High Times

The 10 Best Marijuana Dispensaries In San Francisco

By Jay Mack
05/29/2018

San Francisco as we know it has been split into two halves of the same whole. On one side, there’s “Old” San Francisco, a town with a history of art and activism that stems back to the Beat Generation and, later, the hippie movement. “New” San Francisco is represented by tech innovation, remarkable growth, and an overabundance of young millionaires. While the relationship between these two sides is often contentious, the coexistence between old and new has helped create an environment conducive to some of the most incredible dispensaries in the country. Whether it be a casual lounge where you can medicate and catch a game with friends, or an over-the-top luxury experience, San Francisco has a little bit of everything when it comes to dispensaries.

"There’s a lot to like about SPARC. They have friendly staff, and a ton of different products. They test all of their flowers to make sure they’re of the highest standard (pun most definitely intended)."
"...there's no greater selling point than [SPARC's] employment of local legend the 'Truffle Man'. Before making edibles as a member of the SPARC team, this hero’s now-famous treats were a favorite amongst the dazed crowds of Dolores Park. The Truffle Man’s edibles are something that no other dispensary can offer."

SF Weekly

The Dawn of a New 420

To celebrate California’s first fully legal 420, San Francisco dispensaries turned to vinyl and drag queens

By Zack Ruskin
04/25/2018

For many pot enthusiasts, 420 will always be a day to gather with hundreds of fellow stoners and smoke a truly staggering amount of cannabis. However, for dispensaries, the occasion also offers a chance to make big sales and hopefully welcome some... read more

"This first 420 with adult-use was something that we wanted to get right. Everyone had to scratch something together with very short notice because no one really knew what the regulations were going to be. People did some interesting things to draw attention to their stores. It’s a fun industry to be in because there’s a lot of experimentation going on right now."
Joshua Hoffman
Director of Product, SPARC

ABC 7

North Bay pot farm presses forward after devastating fire

By Laura Anthony
04/11/2018

The North Bay fires were devastating for homeowners and businesses. That includes some of the area’s cannabis growers. “This barn went twice as far, all the way down to that hay and then there was a whole ‘nother barn over here the same size.” The Nuns Fire started in the early evening on October 8. “I didn’t wake up until 2 a.m. and I came down here and everything was on fire by that point,” explained Erich Pearson.

"[SPARC Founder & CEO Erich Pearson] and his workers refused to evacuate, they put out the word that they would be staying to his neighbors, taking in displaced animals while he figured out how to salvage what was left of his business."
"We're replanting everything we planted last year, so we're in rebuild mode."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

New York Magazine

Where Cannabis Enthusiasts Go to Get High on San Francisco

By Aislyn Greene
04/10/2018

As of January 1, 2018, you can legally buy cannabis at any dispensary in California — just for the sheer pleasure of it. All you need is 21 years under your belt, a valid ID from any state, cash-money (dispensaries don’t take credit or debit... read more


Jazz Dispensary

SPARC and Jazz Dispensary Announce Launch of the “Private Stock Series”

04/02/2018

For 420, the annual celebration of cannabis culture that falls this year on Friday, April 20th, leading cannabis industry partner SPARC and the Jazz Dispensary label announce the first installment of the Private Stock Series. Exclusively available at one of SPARC’s four dispensary outlets, Private Stock Series #001 features two classic songs that exemplify soul, funk, and good times. Not coincidentally, both also reference the joys of cannabis. This release is pressed on translucent blue colored vinyl and pressed in a limited run of only 500 copies at Jack White’s Third Man Pressing, out of Detroit, MI.

"There’s a natural relationship between cannabis and music. Both cannabis and albums are tactile, something you can hold. Cannabis and music both alter your mind."
Joshua Hoffman
Director of Product, SPARC
"Hopefully we can continue to drive conversation and celebration around one of the world’s most enjoyable pairings."
Ryan Wilson
Producer and Curator, Jazz Dispensary

Green State

Renewable energy is making San Francisco cannabis grows super-green

By Carolyne Zinko
04/02/2018

As cannabis enters mainstream commerce, shoppers expect higher standards for eco-friendliness. Rising to the occasion, Sense, an indoor cannabis grower located in SoMa, has announced that it has switched to 100 percent renewable energy. Sense is... read more

"[SPARC] purchases renewable energy from PG&E and plans to switch its greenhouses to lower-power LED lighting..."

Bohemian

Best of 2018

Writers Picks: Best Reading of the Cannabis Market

03/21/2018

The core of cannabis users may be video game–playing males and old hippies, but SPARC CEO Erich Pearson sees the emergence of a new market: health-savvy, environmentally conscious consumers who want to know where their cannabis comes from. To meet... read more

"...SPARC CEO Erich Pearson sees the emergence of a new [cannabis] market: health-savvy, environmentally conscious consumers who want to know where their cannabis comes from."
"[SPARC Founder & CEO Erich Pearson] partnered with biodynamic grape and cannabis-growing expert Mike Benziger to grow plants in accordance with tougher-than-organic biodynamic standards and to study how different soil types affect the herb's various properties and characteristics. Does terroir affect cannabis like it does the acres of grapevines nearby? Pearson wants to find out."

Bay Area Reporter

Bay Area Cannasseur: Some dispensaries offer onsite consumption

By Sari Staver
02/28/2018

A rapidly growing number of cannabis dispensaries have opened lounges where adults can legally vape or dab, making the notion of meeting for a cup of coffee or a drink feel very old fashioned. At the moment, there are eight locations in the city that have been approved for onsite consumption, according to Nicole Elliot of the city’s Office of Cannabis.

"One of the most generous policies is at South of Market's SPARC, where patients are allowed to bring in their own medication and borrow one of the dispensary's vaporizers or dab rigs."

The Press Democrat

Close to Home: Why won’t DA Jill Ravitch expunge marijuana convictions?

By Erich Pearson
02/11/2018

You want to know what white privilege looks like? It looks like me. I’m a successful entrepreneur, and I’m a felon, a multiple offender. I’ve been convicted at least six times for various marijuana offenses. But you wouldn’t... read more

"The arrest and prosecution of minorities for cannabis has been, and remains, disproportionate to their population numbers."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"It's simple: marijuana offenses are no longer crimes, therefore we should not continue to punish the individual with a criminal record."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"Cannabis has disproportionately affected people and communities of color, and we need to recognize this fact and seek to rectify the wrong."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Valley of the Moon Magazine

Erich Pearson’s Big Push

By Jonah Raskin
02/01/2018

Last October, just days after a raging fire destroyed much of his bumper crop in Sonoma Valley, Erich Pearson told a reporter: “We’re in fight and rebuild mode.” Soon afterward, he explained, “We got water to some of our plants and salvaged part of our garden.” But he wasn’t able to save eight structures on the property that he leases in Glen Ellen, and that’s at the heart of his sustainable marijuana enterprise. By the time he and staff members woke and rolled out of bed, the fire was too far advanced to contain it. But Pearson and his crew managed to wage a successful battle against flames on nearby Trinity Road. “We saved properties and rescued horses and cats that belonged to neighbors,” he says. “Several places had the potential to re-ignite, and we prevented that from happening.” Would he rather fight a fire or be a bureaucrat behind a desk in Sacramento? “We’re good at both,” he says with a laugh. “But I’d rather fight a fire. Fire is predictable.” Putting out fires, helping neighbors and salvaging crops have been a big part of Pearson’s life since 1998, when he arrived in California from Indiana and began to cultivate, harvest, transport and sell marijuana.

"Putting out fires, helping neighbors and salvaging crops have been a big part of Pearson’s life since 1998, when he arrived in California from Indiana and began to cultivate, harvest, transport and sell marijuana."

San Francisco Business Times

Cannabis wrap up: Growers sue state, price of weed spikes 40% and bill wants to legalize banking for industry

By Riley McDermid
01/26/2018

The legalization of recreational marijuana on Jan. 1 has caused the price of cannabis-related products to skyrocket, while the state faces a lawsuit from growers over large-scale farms and regulators scramble to find a way to legalize banking for the industry. The California Growers Association sued California earlier this week in Sacramento County Superior Court, alleging that regulations crafted after voters-approved Proposition 64 created a loophole for larger players, which could eventually create a “Big Tobacco 2.0” industry in the state.

"The taxes are too high. It’s all passed on to the customer at the end of the day."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

The Press Democrat

Price of pot skyrockets for California customers as new taxes kick in

By Julie Johnson
01/23/2018

California hopes to rake in $1 billion in annual tax revenues from cannabis sales, and nowhere is that more clear than at dispensary cash registers. It’s sticker shock for marijuana customers since Jan. 1, when clerks began adding a whole slate of... read more

"The taxes are too high. It’s all passed on to the customer at the end of the day."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Emerald Report

California Cannabis Crystal Ball: What to expect now that weed is recreational

By Heather Irwin
01/02/2018

Less than 24 hours before the doors to Sebastopol’s Sparc cannabis dispensary were slated to open for recreational marijuana purchases CEO Erich Pearson still hadn’t gotten the official green light. For more than a decade the iconic Sonoma... read more

"At 10:30a.m. New Year’s Day, Sparc became one of the first recreational cannabis stores in Sonoma County."
"It’s so special. It’s so great that as a community we’ve worked so hard to get there. We still have a lot of work to do, and a responsibility to make sure this works"
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Marijuana Business Daily

$4B Brave New World: Updates on the launch of California’s recreational marijuana market

By John Schroyer
01/01/2018

Marijuana Business Daily reporter John Schroyer is on the ground in Berkeley, California, and will post live updates throughout New Year’s Day from the longest-operating medical cannabis dispensary in the country – Berkeley Patients Group (BPG).... read more

"SPARC Sebastopol, about an hour north of San Francisco, began serving rec customers at 10:30 a.m."
"It’s really exciting. We have quite a few people in line. There’s a hundred people here, I’d say. It’s going to be a brisk day."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC
"[SPARC Founder & CEO Erich] Pearson called New Year’s Day a 'milestone' and said he’s happy that California has caught up with other states that have functioning rec markets."
"I personally feel the taxes are not in the sweet spot. They’re a bit high. So we’ll see if people agree to come into the regulated system and pay those taxes. People come out on Day One because they want to celebrate a part of history. That doesn’t mean they don’t buy cannabis from their friends."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

The Press Democrat

Sebastopol City Council set to decide whether to allow recreational cannabis retail by January

By Julie Johnson
12/02/2017

Sebastopol could become the first place in Sonoma County to establish local rules governing the recreational cannabis trade, allowing adults without recommendations to buy marijuana by next year. City Council members Tuesday will consider putting... read more

"[Cannabis commerce and production outside of the medicinal market is] the right thing to do, that’s what the voters wanted, that’s what they expect."
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC

Green State

Scenes from a posh private cannabis party

By Carolyne Zinko
11/27/2017

“It’s not very McKinsey-like!” said a 30-ish woman, who presumably worked at the international consulting firm, while glancing at marijuana and tall glass bongs at a backyard party in San Mateo, California, before quickly walking away. Many of... read more

"It’s not that people are necessarily trying to get high. It’s to get relief from something. People are going to be happier and feel better physically and live a happier life."
Crickette Brown Glad
Philanthropist & host

The Press Democrat

California releases cannabis regulations, with no limit on farm size

By Julie Johnson
11/17/2017

California’s headlong race to write its rules for the legal cannabis marketplace before Jan. 1, when recreational business can commence, took a leap Thursday with the release of a comprehensive set of temporary regulations for the emerging... read more

"[SPARC Founder & CEO Erich] Pearson called the regulations 'a monumental step forward' and said it was a 'relief' to finally have a comprehensive guidebook. He said he hasn’t yet analyzed how the regulations will impact his businesses in Sonoma County, but he’s optimistic."
"We hope the publication of these regulations will spur local jurisdictions to update their own rules to ensure a level playing field for operators across the entire state"
Erich Pearson
Founder & CEO, SPARC