County may limit pot cultivation

County may limit pot cultivation


February 15, 2017 5:18 AM

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to seek an urgency ordinance banning any new non-medical marijuana cultivation and related activities, and to research a registry of commercial marijuana operations.

The supervisors also decided to create a committee to help county staff with the development of a permanent zoning ordinance on medicinal and recreational marijuana.

The board voted 4-1 to direct staff to come back with a limited short-term registry for consideration. Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf was opposed because it didn't include the urgency ordinance.

The supervisors split during discussion about forming an ad hoc committee but ultimately approved it on a 4-1 vote. Ms. Wolf voted no, saying staff would be more efficient at addressing those issues and returning to the board.

The board also voted 4-1 to direct staff to return in 45 days with the urgency ordinance for a board discussion and vote. First District Supervisor Das Williams voted no, stating that the board already adopted a medical marijuana urgency ordinance, but staff said that because of the legalization of recreational marijuana, a new ordinance is needed.

Much of the discussion surrounding the issue involved how Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana, will affect the county, and how much the county can actually regulate.

Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam called Proposition 64 an expensive experiment that is going to have to play out. He said that it's going to get costly for the county to try and "chase everybody down"

"It's so legal that you're never going to be able to prohibit this. It's going to be out there and it's ubiquitous," he said.

Mr. Williams said the recent regulations created a mess for the county.

"We've got to do the best that we can to protect public safety and to comply with the law, and I think the status quo is definitely not working," Mr. Williams said. "The only way we can regulate this is to permit something."

Mr. Williams suggested that some sort of permitting could generate the money to offset enforcement efforts.

The money to fund enforcement shouldn't come from the general fund, he said.

The board heard from 20 public speakers, with many supporting a permitting process.

The Cannabis Business Council of Santa Barbara County urged supervisors to establish a fair local permitting process and even submitted a proposed ordinance.

Others said that marijuana use is dangerous, paving the way for other drugs, or that marijuana grows are unregulated in their community.

"We've got to do the best that we can to protect public safety and to comply with the law, and I think the status quo is definitely not working."

Das Williams, 1st District supervisor

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