A California city has selected a medical marijuana dispensary owner to be mayor over its 7,500 residents, and officials believe he's the first dispensary owner in the nation to hold that post.
The Sebastopol City Council selected 36-year-old Robert Jacob as mayor on Tuesday in a unanimous vote. Jacob is the founder and executive director of Peace in Medicine, which operates two dispensaries in Sonoma County.
Jacob has been on the city council for two years, and most recently was vice mayor. He's worked to create statewide dispensary regulations. He was out of town on Friday and couldn't immediately be reached for in-person comment. But he did issue a statement after being selected for the new post.
"My life has been about service," Jacob said. "By addressing social problems such as homelessness, HIV/AIDS, and access to medical cannabis, we can shape a better world for ourselves."
Sebastopol is a small city about 50 miles north of San Francisco, known for liberal politics and small-town charm. It may be best known for its lush plum and apple growing capabilities. It's known locally for its annual Apple Blossom Festival and Gravenstein Apple Fair.
The new mayor outlined many of his mayoral goals: Increasing the diversity of local business and prioritizing pedestrian improvements and road maintenance.
Jacob, a self-described champion of the "disenfranchised," said that he also wants to help patients "who need safe access to medical cannabis."
"As a mayor," he wrote as a guest commentator in the Sonoma County Gazette, "I can facilitate even more public policy work in my efforts to providing help to those in need."
Americans for Safe Access, which advocates for safe and legal access to therapeutic marijuana, called Jacob's selection as mayor historic and unprecedented.
"This historic, unprecedented vote in Sebastopol illustrates that the medical marijuana community has political strength and the influence to elect advocates to public office," Don Duncan, California Director with Americans for Safe Access, the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group said in a statement. "Although medical marijuana enjoys the support of 80 percent of Americans, Jacob's election as mayor of Sebastopol brings additional legitimacy to the patient community."
After opening Peace in Medicine in 2007, Jacob began serving on the Sebastopol Planning Commission in 2011, then successfully ran for city council in 2012.