Joe A. Garcia speaks to the Lompoc City Council during a special cannabis meeting Monday night.
Len Wood / Santa Maria Times

Santa Barbara remains very much a tale of two counties when it comes to the nascent cannabis industry. On Monday night, the Carpinteria City Council voted unanimously to keep a very tight lid on cannabis operations ​— ​even for personal cultivation ​— ​while the Lompoc City Council voted unanimously to open its arms even wider to would-be cannabis entrepreneurs.

In Carpinteria, the council voted in favor of an ordinance that would maintain the city’s strict ban on retail dispensaries. It will allow, however, some manufacturing, testing, and distribution operations to take place in the northeastern corner of the city now home to business and industrial parks. State law allows all adult state residents to cultivate up to six plants at any given time for personal consumption; local governments are left to determine where and how. The Carpinteria council voted to require personal cultivation to take place only indoors.

Meanwhile 65 miles up the coast, the Lompoc City Council voted to issue letters of authorization to 26 prospective cannabis entrepreneurs to better enable them to secure temporary state operating permits. Of the 26 applications, six have already been approved by the City of Lompoc. Of the six approved, five are for retail ​— ​one with on-site consumption ​— ​and one is for manufacturing. Of the 20 others, six are for retail, eight for manufacturing, three for distribution, and one for testing. To date, this is the first application for a testing lab within Santa Barbara County. The lack of a testing facility is seen as a major hindrance on the new industry; state law requires that all product be tested extensively for strength, purity, and pesticides.

If Lompoc has emerged as the proverbial Wild West for Santa Barbara’s cannabis trade, it remains to be seen how many operations this small community can sustain. “I would never have thought Lompoc could support four Subways, yet we do,” said Robert Traylor, an attorney who represents some of the cannabis applicants. To date, no dispensaries or shops have opened. Lompoc Mayor Bob Lingl speculated it could be as long as six months before one does.


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