Group Sues Santa Barbara Supervisors Over Cannabis Policies

After California legalized commercial marijuana, Santa Barbara County took up the mantle as one of the state’s leading open markets for the green rush. That has created its own set of problems. Cities and residents have pushed back against county leaders, accusing them of putting money and influence above the interests of citizens.

The latest chapter in the ongoing saga over Santa Barbara’s plentiful pot is being written in the form of a lawsuit filed by the Santa Barbara Coalition for Responsible Cannabis. The group filed its suit against the County of Santa Barbara and the Board of Supervisors in Santa Barbara Superior Court on Friday, prompted by the county’s recent decision to uphold a cannabis permit for Busy Bee Organics.

“This lawsuit is a last resort,” said Coalition Board Member Debra Eagle (KEYT). “Industrial scale cannabis operations in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA threaten our future. The Board has ignored these issues while violating several laws, so we have been forced into this litigation in order to bring these operations in line with State law and prevent cannabis growers from destroying Santa Barbara’s communities, tourism and wine economy. Respect and moderation is all we are asking for.”

The suit claims Santa Barbara’s lax rules have led to an explosion of cannabis cultivation throughout the county. It further alleges that county leaders did not do their due diligence to ensure that cultivators who claimed to be medical marijuana growers prior to January 16, 2016 actually were, and that the county failed to hold public hearings to vet grower affidavits.