The Board of Supervisors disagreed with 10 of the 12 Grand Jury findings criticizing the county’s cannabis policies. Barney Melekian of the county CEO’s office said 72 enforcement actions had netted 1.4 million plants from cannabis growers suspected of growing illegally. | Credit: Courtesy
Board Disputes 10 Critical Findings, and Dismisses 17 Recommendations
Rarely has the Santa Barbara Grand Jury issued so scathing a report as the one released this summer about the open embrace given to the cannabis industry by elected officials throughout Santa Barbara county government. In biting detail, the report castigated the board of supervisors — two in particular — for allowing cannabis industry lobbyists such “unfettered access” that the jury recommended creating an ethics commission with new ethics rules that would require — among other things — supervisors receiving campaign donations from industry representatives to recuse themselves from voting on donors’ projects.
Though less sharp in tone and shorter in length, the supervisors returned the favor this Tuesday, approving an official response to the Grand Jury that disagreed either “wholly” or “partially” with 10 of the Grand Jury’s 12 findings and dismissed 17 of the Grand Jury’s 18 remedial recommendations as either “not warranted,” “not reasonable,” or “not needed.” Translated into more affirmative lingo, the supervisors report agreed with just two of the grand jury’s findings and agreed to implement just one of its recommendations.
Perhaps, it’s just that cannabis — like water and whiskey — is destined to be forever fought over — at least in Santa Barbara County, which has emerged as one of the hottest epicenters of legal marijuana production in all California. Not helping matters is the legally stilted lingo which by law the supervisors must deploy when responding to any and all grand jury reports.
In a nutshell, the Grand Jury concluded that the county supervisors — in their haste to legalize a brand new industry that promised untold millions in tax revenues — sold out the county’s normal environmental review process, short-circuited public access to the deliberative process, took industry donations, played footsie with industry lobbyists, and crafted an ordinance that relied on the honor system for cannabis operators to tell the truth and comply with county regulations. The victims in all this, according to the Grand Jury, are the olfactory sensibilities of county residents in town and country who can’t abide the smell of alarmed skunks emanating from greenhouse and field.