Under pressure from growers, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors is tinkering with the acreage caps in its cannabis licensing ordinance, a move it says will encourage the construction of marijuana processing buildings in unincorporated areas and staunch the loss of tax revenue to other California counties.
On February 15, the board voted 4-1 in concept, with Chair Joan Hartmann opposed, to remove buildings for the “drying, curing, and trimming” of cannabis from the acreage caps for “grows” in the Carpinteria Valley and North County. These caps have been set at 186 acres and 1,575 acres, respectively, since 2019.
Citing “very few existing or proposed processing facilities in the county,” the County Executive Officer told the board this month that the county faces “a substantial loss of tax revenue” because locally grown marijuana is being trucked elsewhere for processing. At today’s prices, growers say, unprocessed marijuana is fetching roughly $200 per pound, compared to $1,800 per pound of dry, trimmed, and packaged marijuana.
The amendments now on the table, county officials said, would result in more processing buildings here, including stand-alone buildings on properties where no cannabis is under cultivation. Typically, they would be about 25,000 square feet in size.
Additionally, county records show, removing acreage for processing from the caps would free up about 12 more acres for cultivation — three acres of outdoor “grows” in the North County and nine acres in Carpinteria Valley greenhouses.
“The sooner we do this, the better,” Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, who represents the Santa Maria Valley, said at a November 2, 2021, board hearing on the proposed amendments. “If we don’t fix processing, the rest of our cannabis program might as well be abandoned. We are losing an incredible amount of money. Growers are taking product to Salinas, Lancaster, Lake County, all over the state … We can’t continue this program forward, receiving pennies on the dollar.”
Supervisor Das Williams, who represents the Carpinteria Valley, said it was “dysfunctional” to be transporting cannabis out of the county for processing “when half the time it’s going to come back here. It seems hypocritical of us to add traffic trips on the road for no discernible reason … We should make this change with alacrity.”
A second reading and final board vote on the ordinance amendments has been set for March 1. Coincidentally, on the same date, the board will consider an appeal of cannabis processing building proposed by Graham Farrar, the owner of Glass House Farms, a hot spot for the “skunky” smell of pot.
To Read The Rest Of This Article By Melinda Burns on Santa Barbara Independent
Published: February 24, 2022
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News