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Residents weigh in on Santa Barbara County cannabis regulations

Posted at 6:52 PM, Jan 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-22 22:17:57-05

Santa Barbara County residents took to the podium at Wednesday's Planning Commission to share their ideas about how the county should further regulate cannabis operations.

"I feel like I have a right to stay. I fee like I should be able to breath outside my house clean air. I'd like to keep my quality of life," said Jackie Thiele, a northern Santa Barbara County resident.

Possible changes to current ordinances could include restricting the size and types of cannabis grows, making changes to the permitting process, requiring odor control, and establishing further setbacks and buffers.

"I think that is a step in the right direction and I believe there was comments about odor at the property line. I think that is a phenomenal addition if that could happen, but the filtration of systems should definitely be implemented," said Al Wagner, Folly Wines Vineyard Operations Vice President.

Some cannabis growers say they try their best to be good neighbors in their communities but negligent operations give them a bad rap.

"This really comes down to what your practices are. So we freeze everything off the field instead of drying anything on the property, which mitigates any terpene removal. We also grow and breed fruity varieties versus the skunky variety," said John De Friel with Central Coast Agriculture.

According to county documents, of the 270 acres currently used for cannabis cultivation in Santa Barbara County, about 199 of them are legal nonconforming operations.

That means they are being allowed to operate while they wait to receive their official licenses and in the meantime, do not have to meet all county requirements.

The other 71 acres consist of operations that are subject to county zoning and licensing regulations, which prompted some county residents who live or work next to cannabis farms to continue requesting change.

No action was taken at Wednesday's meeting, but the Planning Commission will consider all the suggestions and opinions of residents and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.