The legalization of cannabis has created another disruptive industry in California, one that is now in the hands of local governments to regulate. At the top of the list of goals for counties and municipalities should be protecting the health and safety of all, especially children. Unfortunately, in my home county of Santa Barbara, the prospect of attracting a high-profit, taxable growth industry seems to be outweighing every other consideration.
I support the legalization of marijuana for adult use and the establishment of cannabis businesses, but my county has opened the pot floodgates too far. According to The Times, “farms in Santa Barbara hold 35% of all cultivation licenses in California this year” even though the county comprises “only 1.8% of the state’s land.” As reporter Joe Mozingo wrote, the county’s “wine region … and the quiet beach town of Carpinteria have become the unlikely capital of California’s legal pot market.”
As a member of the Santa Barbara Board of Education and the parent of a 3rd-grader, I’m most concerned about the proximity of pot farms to schools and kids. It’s a particularly egregious problem in Carpinteria, the school district that neighbors mine, where multiple cannabis cultivation operations have been set up nearby — in some cases, almost next door to — two high schools, an elementary school and two youth centers.
The skunk smell of growing marijuana permeates classrooms, sports fields and hallways in Carpenteria. It won’t get kids high, but it’s a respiratory and throat irritant, according to those exposed to it. Students and teachers have reported headaches and nausea. Carpinteria High School has found it necessary to advise visiting sports teams that they may encounter the odor.
Published: June 26, 2019