My name is Graham Farrar, and I am a cannabis farmer in Carpinteria Valley. Being part of this community is a privilege that I and my team take seriously every day. I grew up in Goleta, and I was an early founding member in Sonos. I’m also a local dad of two young kids. I want to take a moment to set the record straight on a couple of important issues because doing cannabis right is a big deal to us.
Cannabis is the most highly regulated agricultural crop in our county. Period. As growers, we have to secure both local and state licenses and permits and comply with an endless list of regulatory agencies, including the California Department of Water Resources; California Department of Fish and Wildlife; California Department of Pesticide Regulation; Bureau of Cannabis Control; California Department of Tax and Fee Administration; and Santa Barbara County Public Health, Fire, Sheriff, Agricultural Commissioner, Community Services Sustainability Division, Public Works, Environmental Health, and Planning and Development. I can tell you firsthand that securing the signoffs needed from these agencies will take us years. Only those who are truly committed to doing cannabis right long-term will make it through the compliance gauntlet. And we support that.
Odor is our top priority. Those of us who are here to stay and committed to being good neighbors have already installed the best-available odor-control technology. I can tell you that these vapor phase systems work and do not pose health risks. The county has conducted over 30 enforcement actions this year (which were funded by cannabis tax revenue), including on several farms that did not have effective odor-control systems. The county is continuing to shut down operators who aren’t following the rules, but the county can’t actually require operators to have odor-control technology until they have gone through the permitting process. So it’s in everyone’s best interest to speed this process up.
Regulated cannabis is much safer than what you were getting a couple of years ago. Before voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 64 to legalize cannabis (67 percent in Santa Barbara County), there was no oversight. Before Prop. 64, medical consumers had no idea about the strength or content of the product they were consuming. Thanks to the new regulations, you don’t have to worry about that anymore. Pesticides are not allowed, and cannabis must be tested for 66 different pesticides down to the parts per billion level. This is significant. Every other product you consume (lettuce, strawberries) has residual pesticides. No other agriculture goes through this level of testing.
Cannabis growing in greenhouses is as environmentally friendly as it gets. We recapture and reuse our water, and we don’t use pesticides — instead, we use beneficial insects. This is unprecedented for any other agricultural product. Additionally, the Santa Barbara County permit process requires a 15 percent reduction in energy use for all cannabis farms.
Cannabis, done right, is fundamental to preserving the agricultural character of Carpinteria and making sure ag lands are not converted to development. Absent cannabis growers’ utilization of preexisting greenhouse infrastructure, these coastal properties would be very attractive to developers. It’s also important to recognize that we are not proposing any new construction or new development, another reason why we are a low-impact crop change for the area.
We have a unique opportunity to fulfill the will of you, the voters, by providing access to safe, locally and responsibly grown, legal cannabis. We are dedicated to doing this the right way, by stimulating our local economy, being respectful of our community, and also by keeping Carpinteria in sustainable farming, as it has been for generations.