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Concerns Over Legal Cannabis Industry In Santa Barbara County Draws Hundreds To Comment On Issue


Legal cannabis growing is becoming big business in Santa Barbara County. But, issues like the smell and the proximity to homes have some people upset. Hundreds of people were on hand for a pair of Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors hearings looking at cannabis concerns.

Ideas include limiting the number of permits, requiring odor control systems, and banning growing in some areas near homes. But, after the second of two marathon hearings went into the evening Tuesday, Supervisors postponed deliberations on most of the issues until July 16th.

Growers say they are contributing jobs and tax dollars to the region. But, neighbors are concerned about issue ranging from smell to compatibility.

More than 200 people testified as Santa Barbara County Supervisors looked at tightening cannabis growing regulations.

One of the big issues County Supervisors addressed was the size of agriculturally zoned lots which could be used for cannabis growing. Some residents call the use inappropriate for smaller lots, especially because those zoned AG-1, 20 acres or less are often interweaved with homes.  Supervisors approved the concept of prohibiting cannabis growing operations on AG-1, 20 actres or less lots.   They are also looking at adding a conditional use permit requirement on ag lots of more than 20 acres.

And, Supervisors agreed to expand the noticing of people living near potential cannabis grows that there are proposed projects under county review.

County officials also acknowledged the problem of people operating without permits, or in some cases phony ones. They say the County Sheriff’s Cannabis Compliance Team has served 38 warrants, and seized 1.2 million plants at 22 different sites.