The nonprofit organization called Santa Barbara’s Fighting Back is working together with the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse in an effort to ban medical marijuana dispensaries everywhere in the county. On Wednesday, May 12, the two groups hosted a press conference titled “Don’t Cannabis Our Kids.” Their focus was the unforeseen negative effects caused by the Compassionate Use Act passed in 1996.
Speakers expressed their concerns about dispensaries distributing marijuana to “patients” who may or may not suffer from a debilitating condition. Furthermore, they said that much of the marijuana distributed from Santa Barbara’s dispensaries is grown illegally. Their final and most important concern, they said, is that marijuana is now becoming even more accessible to our county’s children.
“Dispensaries are absolutely illegal under federal law and I suspect many are generating funds illegally,” said Ann Bramsen, acting district attorney for Santa Barbara County. Sheriff Bill Brown pointed out that the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s office conducted 22 raids of “back country” grow operations in 2009, in which 240,000 marijuana plants were eradicated. Brown claims that’s a 350-percent increase from 2008. Brown went on to say, “These grow operations are orchestrated by armed profiteers who pose a threat to our county’s rural community, in particular the farmers and legitimate land owners of these areas. The growers that we have arrested do not show any signs of terminal illness, nor are any of them caregivers of a medical marijuana patient.”
One big red flag alerting authorities to the fact that medical marijuana is finding its way into school campuses is the presence of edible marijuana products. Dispensaries produce edible alternatives to smoking marijuana such as cookies and lollipops. When a marijuana lollipop appears in the hands of a minor, it is clear that such products were originally obtained from a dispensary and not a home growing operation, the authorities said. Brian Sarvis, superintendent of the Santa Barbara School District, which has 15,500 students, called medical marijuana dispensaries in Santa Barbara a “big problem.” He added that he is joining forces with other community leaders to “fight back.”