Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

Santa Barbara County saw a 50 percent increase in cannabis tax revenues this first quarter, July 1-September 30, 2020, from the same time last year — a total of $4.2 million.

The county’s fiscal and policy analyst Steven Yee and assistant county executive officer Barney Melekian presented the Board of Supervisors with a first quarter report on cannabis compliance, taxation, and enforcement Tuesday.

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The following are the top five takeaways from the pot presentation:

  • There are 121 operators contributing to the $4.2 million in cannabis taxes this quarter. Only 54 of those operators reported gross receipts, but that doesn’t mean the other operators aren’t in compliance with the law. There are many reasons for filing zero gross receipts, including if the grow had zero activity that quarter or is operating a nursery.
  • There are 269.9 acres of county land growing permitted cannabis. Lompoc alone holds 104.1 of those acres, the Santa Ynez Valley accounts for 95.7 acres, and Carpinteria for 68.6 acres.
  • The county issued five enforcement actions in the first quarter. Of these enforcement actions combined, the county confiscated 7,220 cannabis plants, worth $3.6 million on the streets. This was significantly less than last year’s first quarter, during which the county issued 12 enforcement actions and confiscated $4.2 million worth of plants.
  • Over the first quarter, county staff completed the first phase of the retail storefront selection process. A total of 23 applicants passed the merit-based application process and made the first list. These applicants, listed here, will move on to be evaluated by a third party and the county business licensing team before given a rank and possible selection for a storefront.
  • Out of the 209 permit applications for cannabis-related operations that have been submitted to date, 184 applications are still pending final action and are in various stages of processing. There are more land-use permits pending than any other type of permit, a total of 82.


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