Pot Pivot

Santa Rosa loads the bong

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A new, cannabis-devoted “institution of higher learning” is coming to Santa Rosa. “The Galley” will serve as a center for the co-manufacture and distribution of cannabis in Northern California. “Our mission is to create a cannabis campus,” says Annie Holman, The Galley’s public face. “We have efficient equipment. We’ll be able to produce high-end cannabis products.”

For years, North Coast Fisheries occupied the 8,300-square-foot space on Sebastopol Road. Now the icon for The Galley—a red-headed mermaid with a marijuana leaf—is the only thing fishy about the space.

Nancy Birnbaum, the director of Women’s Cannabis Business Development (WCBD) and the publisher of Sensi magazine, says, “I love the idea of The Galley as a cannabis campus that will help educate the community and a place where people will be able to learn about health and wellness.”

“There’s already a big demand for space at our campus,” Holman says. “A lot of mom-and-pop operations were knocked out of the market because they couldn’t afford to pay for licenses, rent or buy a building, and purchase equipment. We’ll help them get back in business, survive and thrive.”

The company also plans to produce its own line of goodies under the “Big Fish” label.

Holman knows cannabis works. She suffered back pain and insomnia in the 1980s. “I was using too much Advil and sleeping medications,” she says. “I tried CBD and THC and it made a profound difference in my life. I started to sleep again.”

Shortly before the passage of Prop 64, Holman owned and operated the Derby Bakery in Petaluma, where she made medicinal baked goods and cannabis chocolates. Around the same time, authorities raided a storage space she rented. “We were caught up in a sweep,” she says. “That’s behind us now.”

Holman partners with two people at The Galley: Gina Pippin, the CEO, and another woman who wants to fly under the radar for the time being. The company secured authorization from Santa Rosa, and now Holman waits while the city issues an occupancy permit, which will secure a license from the California Department of Public Health.

Holman expects Santa Rosa to become a major hub in the Northern California cannabis world. “At our event center, we’d like to host Sonoma County cannabis groups, organizations and businesses, as well as health and wellness seminars,” Holman says. “We want people to hang out and share their expertise. We want to learn.”

The Galley will employ more than 20 people, most of them skilled bakers, chocolatiers and candymakers. Employees will receive health benefits and a living wage.

“We have not done much advertising,” Holman says. “Word-of-mouth and our presence at cannabis events seems to be the way to go.”

The Galley intends to be operational before the end of the year. Maybe you’ll want to go back to school and continue your education at Santa Rosa’s own cannabis campus.

Jonah Raskin is the author of Marijuanaland and Dark Day, Dark Night and has story credit for the movie Homegrown.

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