Santa Barbara County has become the unlikely capital of California’s legal pot market, and two of the county’s supervisors are facing allegations that they have been catering to people in the marijuana industry who have donated to their campaigns and with whom they have frequently met. [LA Times]
Santa Barbara County marijuana policy was largely crafted by supervisors Das Williams and Steve Lavagnino, as well as Dennis Bozanich, the deputy county executive officer. Williams and Lavagnino formed an ad hoc committee, which was not subject to the state’s open meeting laws. The ad hoc committee gave guidance to Bozanich and planning staff on writing temporary measures and, ultimately, a broad ordinance that regulates the industry.
Marijuana industry advocates have developed close ties with Williams and Lavagnino. Emails and calendars obtained by the LA Times through public record requests show pot lobbyists and growers had easy and regular access to Williams and Lavagnino.
Williams met frequently and socialized with the president of the organization Carp Growers. It appears Lavagnino also socialized with a marijuana lobbyist.
In 2017 and 2018, members of Carp Growers contributed a total of $16,500 to Williams’ campaign committee. They also donated $12,000 to Lavagnino in the month leading up to the final vote on Santa Barbara County’s marijuana ordinance update last year.
Williams and Lavagnino pushed for and succeeded in getting the county to adopt nearly every significant measure marijuana cultivators requested. Additionally, Supervisor Gregg Hart, who was elected last November, hired a marijuana lobbyist as his chief of staff.
Published: June 17, 2019