Santa Barbara County Supervisors took steps toward cracking down on illegal cannabis operations Tuesday.
It’s one of several code changes that are on the way as the county tries to adapt to this new industry.
“If people can’t follow the rules, then I don’t know if I want them doing business in Santa Barbara County,” said Deputy County Executive Officer Dennis Bozanich.
A strong message sent to illegal growers in Santa Barbara County Tuesday, as the Board of Supervisors adopted amendments to their codes that would ban people who lied on their applications or affidavit to receive temporary state licenses from getting licenses in the future.
“I think we’ve been rather consistent in saying follow the rules, follow the regulations, then there’s a place for them to do business. If they can’t, then we do have an enforcement team that will go in there and make sure they can’t operate any longer,” Bozanich said.
The county also changed their codes on background check requirements for farm workers, from having to do a live scan to a regular background check.
The county says Tuesday’s meeting is the first time it has made revisions to their cannabis codes since they were put into place last year.
Those in the cannabis industry, like KopSun, a cannabis information and education organization based in Carpinteria, say they are happy to crack down on illegal grows but worry about broader changes to regulations that could be coming.
“If we are to start making changes to the ordinance so that those that are in compliance and are playing by all the rules where the goal post keeps changing, how are we ever going to encourage and support those that are investing in the legalization of cannabis?” said KopSun CEO Tina Frontado.
The county says more refining of the codes could be on the way.
“It’s only been in the last three weeks that someone has successfully – a brand new operator – has gotten all the way through the permitting process for land use permits and all the way through our cannabis business licensing process, so that cadence is going to pick up. There will be more coming soon and now we’ll be able to learn what’s working and what doesn’t work,” Bozanich said.
While these changes were adopted Tuesday, they won’t go into effect for 30 days.
Still in the distance, the county’s planning commission is looking at ordinances for AG-1 zoned properties, 20-acre or less parcels that could no longer be allowed to cultivate cannabis. The county says it may be until summer or fall before it’s finalized.