Ann Louise Bardach might be globe renowned as an investigative reporter, but in Santa Barbara County she’s emerged as a higher-octane political pot-stirrer, far extra inclined to use vinegar than honey to catch the proverbial flies. In current months, Bardach teamed up with anti- cannabis crusaders in the Carpinteria Valley this Tuesday, she served notice on the Board of Supervisors that the disparate pockets of discontent more than Santa Barbara’s booming cannabis business have joined forces to generate a new countywide organization, the Santa Barbara Coalition for Accountable Cannabis, with activists from all 5 of the county’s supervisorial districts.

In remarks seemingly engineered to offend and annoy the pro- cannabis board majority, Bardach recommended the county’s cannabis ordinance “may nicely have been” written by the cannabis lobby itself. “One can’t assistance but consider about the takeover of the EPA by coal lobbyists, stripping back the most simple protections against air and water pollution,” she stated. “That’s the way residents, avocado growers, vintners, and organizations have come to really feel about this board.”

Although Bardach’s rhetorical broadsides trigger opponents ​— ​and even some supporters ​— ​to wince, her involvement clearly has influence. Two months ago, Bardach actively sought to recruit Santa Barbara College Board President Laura Capps to challenge 1st District Supervisor Das Williams in his reelection bid a year from now, so outraged was Bardach by Williams’s energetic assistance for the cannabis business. Williams was counseled by close advisors to meet with Bardach. He did so, but she remains decidedly unmollified. Capps, for the record, has indicated totally no interest in difficult Williams, a fellow Democrat and incumbent. The new anti- cannabis coalition ​— ​for which Bardach functions as the keynote speaker ​— ​has adopted a broader, countywide attack to transform Santa Barbara’s cannabis ordinance to restrict cultivation on parcels zoned for massive-scale agriculture. The essential challenge is odor.

At challenge this Tuesday have been a handful of substantial but reasonably minor modifications to the county’s specifications for applicants searching for cannabis business enterprise licenses. What county agency would have duty to critique the power plans of cannabis applications? How would the retail dispensary permits the supervisors authorized be distributed all through the 5 supervisorial districts? And what part would the County Sheriff’s Workplace play in screening potential personnel for potential cannabis operations for criminal backgrounds? As usual, nevertheless, the subject of cannabis proved to be a greased pig about which the supervisors could not quickly wrap their arms.

Coalition speakers would not be hemmed in or confined by the subjects specified on the meeting agenda. Wine growers complained about the olfactory violence inflicted by cannabis terpenes ​— ​in complete harvest riot ​— ​on their customers’ tasting-area experiences. The head of the vintners association talked wistfully about reaching out to the new cannabis business to realize some cultural accord when at the exact same time telling stories of unnamed cannabis operators working with powerful-arm techniques to stress unnamed grape growers to sell their land.

A single Carpinteria resident derided the odor-suppression technologies employed by some growers as ineffective, likening it to an inconsiderate neighbor who tosses a balloon of Lysol following possessing very first chucked a load of dog droppings. “Does that make it greater?” he demanded. The speakers demanded new zoning modifications to restrict the spread of cannabis cultivation, to need higher setbacks, and largely to offset the influence of the ripe aromas triggered by cannabis

Cannabis growers showed up as nicely, arguing that the supervisors required to give the current ordinance a year to prove itself ​— ​or not ​— ​before thinking about any modifications. The price of compliance as a result far, they argued, had been exorbitantly highly-priced. Superior operators, they argued, must not be punished for the transgressions of the terrible apples. Extra regulation, they warned, would outcome in greater operating expenses, which in turn would chase extra operators into the black market place, which the supervisors have been told accounted for 80 % of all cannabis grown as it was.

Cannabis critics charged that lots of growers have engaged in wholesale fraud and perjury when signing affidavits to safe certificates of “legal nonconformance” early in the procedure, and they demanded action. Such certificates have been required for lots of of the county’s cannabis applicants ​— ​about two,200 licenses have been applied for in Santa Barbara County, the highest in the state ​— ​to get their foot in the door in the state’s lengthy and convoluted procedure of legalization. These affidavits claim the applicant in query was cultivating cannabis beneath the state’s now defunct medicinal cannabis laws prior to January 2016. County officials lacked the sources to verify such affidavits for accuracy at the time. 

Photo: Paul WellmanSanta Barbara County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino at hearing discussing amendments to Chapter 50 – Licensing of Industrial Cannabis Operations Ordinance

The most widespread allegation against most of the cannabis operations considering the fact that targeted for enforcement action by the county cannabis compliance officers is perjury ​— ​lying on legal nonconformance affidavits. The other widespread charge is cultivating extra cannabis than the affidavits indicated have been grown.

The supervisors ​— ​even the most pro- cannabis ones ​— ​have conceded some operators lied. They pushed County Counsel Michael Ghizzoni to craft new language producing it less complicated to deny permits to any applicant who willfully lies on such applications. Ironically, Supervisor Peter Adam ​— ​who would express the most complete-throated concern of any supervisor about odor complications triggered by the new industry ​— ​was the only supervisor to express misgivings. A single person’s lie, he noted, is one more person’s distinction of opinion or misperception.

Adam repeatedly stressed the complications developed by cannabis’s pungent terpene odors. He expressed severe doubt that “peaceful coexistence” was even doable with preexisting industries and types of agriculture. Adam regularly voted against regulating cannabis in the previous undertaking so, he worried, could set a precedent for regulating other types of agriculture. Now, he was reconsidering. “I like to be the contrary libertarian and say, ‘Let every person do what the hell they want,’” he stated. But cannabis reminded him of the saying by Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Your liberty to swing your fist ends just exactly where my nose starts.”

With Adam’s transform of heart, there are two votes on the board for a stricter regulatory regime Supervisor Joan Hartmann, whose district encompasses Santa Ynez wine nation, has skilled a transform of heart as nicely and has pushed in current months for higher restrictions than the board majority supports. The fight is shifting ground for the time becoming to the County Arranging Commission, which will discover doable zoning and land-use modifications this week.

Supervisor Lavagnino argued that cannabis had been banned prior to in Santa Barbara, but that it was grown all through the county nonetheless. Given that cannabis has been legalized, he stated, revenues generated by its cultivation and taxation have paid for 23 complete-time county personnel whose sole concentrate is to greater enforce county cannabis laws. In the previous quarter alone, 56,00 plants worth $7 million had been eradicated for the duration of raids with 32 new enforcement instances lined up. That does not count the 700,00 plants county cannabis compliance officers just “arrested” in 3 separate actions worth an estimated $20 million. (Destruction of these plants was halted by a court order obtained by criminal defense lawyer Robert Sanger, who demanded due procedure on behalf of his clients’ house.) As for the odors, Lavagnino noted seven higher-finish wineries operate in the town of Gilroy, renowned worldwide for its garlic festivals.