The County of Santa Barbara is turning a blind eye to claims of “legal non-conforming” by cannabis growers. Hundreds of growers in our county claim “legal non-conforming” on government affidavits and have perjured themselves. For example, two growers in my residential neighborhood of Cebada Canyon near Lompoc lease a parcel from one owner. I contacted the former tenants who lived on this parcel in 2017 and 2018 and provided the county’s cannabis enforcement department utility bills and proof that the growers were not growing as of January 19, 2016. Yet, these growers had been allowed to continue growing cannabis until December.
At a public hearing appeal of the Busy Bee cannabis operation, photographic evidence of growing and expansion (after January 19, 2016) and Busy Bee’s claim of Legal Non-Conforming was questioned by Supervisor Hartmann. The County of Santa Barbara’s legal counsel made no comment.
At a public hearing of the Planning Commissioners concerning the cannabis applicant Herbal Angels, numerous neighbors stated the property was sold to the applicant in May 2017, well after the January 19, 2016 deadline and applicant’s claim of legal non-conforming. Commissioner Parke brought this in front of commissioners questioning the claim of Legal Non-Conforming. Once again, The County of Santa Barbara’s legal counsel sat on their hands and said nothing.
Are we to believe the County of Santa Barbara has decided to do nothing on cannabis Legal Non-Conforming applicants? Isn’t perjury on a government affidavit reason to prosecute? The County of Santa Barbara’s response to claims of “legal non-conforming” is that growers would be examined during the business license process. The business license process is well after commissioners and Board of Supervisor’s review and current approval progression. Isn’t this a waste of tax payers money and time when clearly the county continues to ignore violation of the legal non-conforming claim of many applicants?
The damning Grand Jury Report that came out last month finally exposed the need for a new cannabis regulatory plan, along with basic ethics reform including the issue of legal non-conforming.
It’s time to look into this important issue. I believe the County of Santa Barbara is setting a dangerous precedent. Responsible cannabis growing should operate legally and be taxed accordingly. It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road.