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Tempers Flare at County Cannabis Confab

Paul Wellman – Fifth District County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino listens to recommendations for cannabis regulatory amendments.

Growers Clash with Concerned Carpinterians Group and Wine-Industry Reps

Tempers got sufficiently hot at Tuesday’s public hearing over the county’s cannabis ordinance that Supervisor Steve Lavagnino found himself threatening to have Sheriff’s Office bailiffs haul out members of a notably large, angry, rambunctious crowd if they didn’t stop interrupting.

By that time, it turned out, bailiffs had escorted out one especially incensed cannabis critic from a nearby room after he called John De Friel, a prominent Santa Ynez cannabis grower and member of the county’s Agricultural Advisory Committee, “an asshole.”

De Friel had just finished testifying before the supervisors when William “Bubba” Hines approached him. Hines denied grabbing or touching De Friel, but said he wanted to express his frustration that De Friel was growing 70 acres of cannabis next to the 22 acres of grapes he’s growing and the tasting room he hopes to build. The smell from the cannabis, Hines said, will adversely affect his wine operation. Hines denied being walked out by bailiffs. “I told them I was leaving anyway,” he said.

By Paul Wellman

County Supervisor Das Williams listens to recommendations for cannabis regulatory amendments

All this drama occurred not long after Supervisor Das Williams got into a blistering exchange with Carpinteria resident Peter Lapidus, who had complained bitterly of the intrusive cannabis stench caused by vapors emanating from Carpinteria’s ocean of greenhouses. Lapidus was part of a large contingent — calling themselves Concerned Carpinterians — who showed up dressed in red shirts and jackets with multiple clothespins attached. The clothespins alluded to the cannabis stench that’s settled over portions of the Carpinteria Valley in the past two years. The group was demanding a moratorium on new cannabis permits.

Lapidus objected to the lack of enforcement by the county. He complained that he had not been invited to attend a meeting held by Williams — who represents Carpinteria — in his own home to discuss odor-abatement strategies. Williams later explained he thought Lapidus had unfairly characterized that meeting as being somehow “nefarious.” Williams launched into Lapidus, stating, “To get a lecture from you, who’s been taking water out of the Carpinteria Valley to give it to rich people in Montecito, is a real piece of work.” By that, Williams meant Lapidus had been selling water from his family well to water-parched property owners in Montecito during the depth of the drought.

“You just made an accusation that’s untrue,” Lapidus replied. “Along with yours, Mr. Lapidus,” Williams responded. The two would later continue their contentious exchange in the hallways of the County Administration Building and later still in many subsequent emails, but not before Lapidus tossed out, “You’re a sell-out.” As one longtime county employee wryly noted, “Nothing like a little indica to get everyone riled up.”

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Nick Welch on Santa Barbara Independent

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Published: February 01, 2019

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