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Dennis Bozanich (left) of the S.B. County Executive Office has had his ear bent by many cannabis growers and angry neighbors.

Paul Wellman (file)

Dennis Bozanich (left) of the S.B. County Executive Office has had his ear bent by many cannabis growers and angry neighbors.


Santa Barbara’s Cannabis Laws Are Still Dazed and Confused

Update on the City and County’s Efforts to Accommodate Recreational Marijuana


Keeping up with evolving cannabis laws in Santa Barbara is proving more difficult than deciding between Blue Dream and OG Kush. But the end is in sight.

City and county lawmakers are wrapping up a yearlong effort to draft regulations governing the marijuana industry across the supply chain. They are trying to balance the concerns of worried neighbors and those eager to get involved in the green rush. After all, the tax revenue is expected to relieve strapped county coffers.

In the city, the main question for hopeful consumers is where the retail shops will be located. The S.B. City Council voted to allow three storefronts, but not within 600 feet of a school or youth center, and they must have security guards on-site. Manufacturing labs will be confined to a pocket of properties on the city’s Eastside. The City Council voted to ban marijuana smoking lounges, and it’s already illegal to smoke in public places, just like the city’s tobacco laws.

At the county level, the discussion is focused on farming, which is, after all, the region’s number-one industry. Cannabis growers here hold the most temporary state licenses in California. Many traditional farmers are switching to marijuana, particularly in Carpinteria, where the cut-flower industry is struggling. This has produced odor and nighttime light grievances that were aired during no fewer than 28 public hearings in the last year. The county supervisors banned outdoor cultivation 1,500 feet from a school or residential zone. They also banned all cannabis businesses from within 750 feet of schools and nurseries from within 600 feet. In addition, the county supervisors voted to allow eight retail shops in the unincorporated areas.

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