How Santa Barbara Became Ground Zero in California’s Green Rush
Santa Barbara County makes up just 1.8% of land in California, yet it’s home to 35% of all cultivation licenses issued this year. The world’s two largest legal marijuana grows will soon be located in the county, spanning a whopping 147 and 83 acres each.
Intense lobbying is what helped turn this county into the epicenter of weed, according to the Los Angeles Times. The industry got the ear of some supervisors who, in turn, made it relatively easy for Big Marijuana to get in and play ball.
“County supervisors voted not to limit the size and number of marijuana grows. They chose not to vet growers’ applications for licenses or conduct site inspections,” the Times explains.
“They decided to tax the operations based on gross revenue instead of licensed square footage, as Humboldt and Monterey counties do, even though the county has no method to verify the numbers. So far, the county has received a fraction of what its consultants had predicted.”
Some residents are angry. They never foresaw their town becoming the new Humboldt. It has affected tourism, as well as farming. Avocado growers worry they could be held liable if their pesticides taint nearby marijuana crops, the Times reports.
Supervisor Das Williams acknowledges the critics have a point. County policy did create a “Wild West situation that we’re just cleaning up now,” he said. But cleaning up is easier said than done. There is widespread disagreement over the best way to put the genie back in the bottle.
Read more about how Santa Barbara became ground zero in California’s Green Rush and what the county plans to do about it here.