Tuesday, November 30, 2021     Volume: , Issue:
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Santa Maria Sun / Cannabis Corner

Natural Healing Center loses dispensary permit; former CEO pleads guilty to bribery, tax evasion

By Peter Johnson

“NHC! NHC! NHC!” A few dozen employees of Natural Healing Center chanted their company’s acronym in unison on Oct. 19 while gathered on the steps of San Luis Obispo City Hall. Donning white T-shirts with “save my career” printed across the b......


Lompoc Planning Commission approves plans for two separate cannabis facilities

By Caleb Wiseblood

Construction on two proposed cannabis facilities in Lompoc could start as early as 2023, following both projects’ recent approvals from the city’s Planning Commission. During the Planning Commission’s Sept. 22 meeting, city officials voted to approve a 68,......


Child care, cannabis regulation amendments to be prioritized by county

By Malea Martin

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors chose to focus some of the county’s zoning ordinance amendment efforts on cannabis permitting and child care facilities for this fiscal year. When the board adopted the county budget in June, it approved a new position wit......


The city of Lompoc proposes a new cannabis tax measure in order to generate revenue for the city

By TAYLOR O'CONNOR

Seaweed Dispensary owner Todd Mitchell seized on Lompoc’s laissez-faire attitude toward the cannabis industry as an opportunity to open the first and only cannabis lounge on the Central Coast.  “Lompoc is a great place [for cannabis businesses]. There are v......


Coalition for Responsible Cannabis resolves odor concerns with local grows, withdraws appeal

By Malea Martin

The Santa Barbara County Coalition for Responsible Cannabis withdrew an appeal on Aug. 16 that it made against the county-approved Autumn Brands and Ocean Hill Farms cannabis project, after reaching an agreement with cannabis growers.  After the Santa Barbara County Pl......


NHC loses court fight over Orcutt dispensary, founder charged with bribery

By Camillia Lanham

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles announced bribery and tax evasion charges against Natural Healing Center co-founder and owner Helios Dayspring just days after a Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge denied the cannabis company’s petition against the......


Guadalupe works to establish commercial cannabis permit application criteria

By Kasey Bubnash

Guadalupe is working to flesh out the finer details of its recently passed cannabis ordinance, and although that process might take slightly longer than initially expected, potential business owners could be able to apply for cannabis business permits before the summer&rsquo......


Court rejects request to revisit cannabis ordinance environmental impacts

By Kasey Bubnash

A recent ruling in favor of a Santa Ynez Valley cannabis grow and Santa Barbara County rejected claims that the project is environmentally incompatible with neighboring farms, a decision that could foreshadow outcomes of similar lawsuits filed by the Santa Barbara County Coa......


Guadalupe considers allowance of commercial cannabis

By Kasey Bubnash

Guadalupe could be the next Santa Barbara County city to allow the sale of recreational and medicinal cannabis, a move city staff say could help the city overcome its long-standing financial woes.  At a meeting on May 18, the Guadalupe City Council considered a draft o......


Santa Ynez cannabis grow agrees to regulate and study odor emissions

By Kasey Bubnash

A recently approved cannabis cultivation project in the Santa Ynez Valley includes an odor testing and analysis plan that some are hailing as the gold standard for odor abatement in the local marijuana industry.  At a meeting on May 4, the Santa Barbara County Board of......


Natural Healing Center takes fight for Orcutt cannabis store to court

By Kasey Bubnash

The Natural Healing Center (NHC) is disputing its exclusion from the final phase of Santa Barbara County’s cannabis retail storefront selection process, arguing that the county’s unfair scoring system led to lower than deserved marks for the local cannabis compan......


Solvang-area residents continue clashing over greenhouse project, Board of Supervisors asks for environmental review

By MALEA MARTIN

A battle between neighbors over whether one landowner should be allowed to build a greenhouse just north of Solvang rages on, despite the project being unanimously denied by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission in October 2020. Steve Decker, who wants to build a nea......


Orcutt school district has no stance on proposed cannabis dispensaries

By Kasey Bubnash

Several cannabis companies are vying for retail space in Orcutt, and although some community members had hoped the local school district would weigh in on proposed dispensary locations, that’s not going to happen. For now, anyway.  “At this time, the distri......


County cannabis tax revenue doubled in the last year, but challenges still exist

By Kasey Bubnash

Applications for cannabis grows and storefronts continued to pour into Santa Barbara County during the first quarter of fiscal year 2020-21 along with a significant increase in tax revenue—all despite this year’s pandemic-induced economic downfall. Still, county ......


Battle erupts over Natural Healing Center dispensary as investor sues founder over alleged malfeasance

By PETER JOHNSON

Helios Dayspring, co-owner and founder of Natural Healing Center dispensary in Grover Beach, faces a civil lawsuit from 81-year-old William Szymczak—an early supporter and investor and a former director in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Th......


Cannabis grow near Buellton approved

By Kasey Bubnash

It’s been about a year and a half since Castlerock Family Farms first applied to operate a cannabis grow on a ranch just outside of Buellton, and despite two appeals and concerns about how cannabis odors will impact neighboring communities and businesses, the project i......


Planning Commission approves cannabis project on Williams Ranch

By Zac Ezzone

A cannabis project located about 2 miles west of Buellton is moving forward after the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission rejected an appeal filed by a nearby vineyard operator. Last August, John Wagner of Peake Ranch Winery appealed the county Planning Department&rsqu......


Supervisors propose measures to tighten cannabis regulations

By Zac Ezzone

Cannabis farmers in Santa Barbara County could face additional hurdles if proposed changes to existing local regulations take effect. On June 11, the county Board of Supervisors held a hearing to discuss the county Planning Commission’s proposal to require all cannabi......


County faces another lawsuit over Santa Ynez cannabis farm

By Zac Ezzone

A group of Santa Barbara County residents recently filed a second lawsuit over the county’s decision to approve another cannabis project in the Santa Ynez Valley. The county Board of Supervisors approved plans for West Coast Farms, the project at the center of this mo......


Planning Commission continues hearing over controversial cannabis project

By Zac Ezzone

During its meeting on April 7, the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission picked up a discussion it had started in early December 2019 over a cannabis operation in Cebada Canyon near Lompoc by a corporation called Herbal Angels.  Despite not issuing permits for the p......


Commission recommends more stringent permit process for cannabis cultivation

By ZAC EZZONE

All cannabis cultivation projects in Santa Barbara County will face a more rigorous permitting process if supervisors back a recommendation the county Planning Commission made at a recent meeting. Last year, the county Board of Supervisors directed staff to work with the Pl......


Supervisors approve cannabis farm west of Buellton

By Zac Ezzone

Nearly a year after the Santa Barbara County Planning and Development Department approved plans for a cannabis farm on Highway 246 about a mile west of Buellton, the project has received a final stamp of approval from supervisors following a lengthy appeal process.  ......


Planning Commission pursuing stricter cannabis odor control

By Zac Ezzone

After spending numerous meetings over the last few months discussing possible changes to the county’s cannabis regulations, the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission made its first move toward pursuing stricter odor control requirements.  Last July, the county......


An ag panel discusses present challenges, potential for the future

By ZAC EZZONE

Labor shortages and government regulations tied to groundwater usage continue to hinder local farmers, but technological advancements could ease some of these concerns, according to a panel of agriculture experts who spoke at a recent event in Santa Maria. The panel met as ......


County Planning Commission supports cannabis overlay

By ZAC EZZONE

Less than two months into the new year, the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission has already had numerous discussions over possible amendments to the county’s cannabis ordinance. The county Board of Supervisors directed the commission to look at potential change......


Just a plant: Farmers stress that cannabis is another agricultural commodity

By ZAC EZZONE

From continuously changing regulations to scrutiny from some local groups and the threat of the black market, farmers at the forefront of the cannabis industry have to be adept at navigating a number of challenges. As of Jan. 15, Santa Barbara County has received applicat......


Ag commissioner talks cannabis, pesticide issues

By ZAC EZZONE

During the county Planning Commission meeting on Jan. 22, Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner Cathy Fisher presented the findings of a working group that was charged with identifying solutions to issues some farmers have encountered when applying pesticides to cro......


Buellton City Council asks county to tighten cannabis ordinance

By ZAC EZZONE

Geographically located between northern and southern Santa Barbara County, the Santa Ynez Valley is also at the center of much of the area’s debate over cannabis cultivation. Some opponents of the plant point to what they see as a concentration of pending cannabis f......


The first cannabis testing lab in Santa Barbara County is opening in Lompoc

By ZAC EZZONE

Despite the number of cannabis farms dotting hillsides throughout Santa Barbara County, there’s currently no local laboratory for farmers to take their plants for state-required testing or other cannabis-related scientific needs.  But that’s set to change......


Cannabis farm applicant presents cannabis terpenes study, county looks for additional information

By ZAC EZZONE

Among the concerns Santa Barbara County residents have raised in opposition to cannabis is the fear that certain organic compounds released by the plant will taint nearby grapes, changing the flavor of the wine produced.  Much of this fear is rooted in a 2012 study com......


County changes framework for cannabis retail stores application process

By ZAC EZZONE

Following a year of nonstop conversations over cannabis cultivation, residents and stakeholders in Santa Barbara County will have a new marijuana-related topic to discuss in 2020: The actual sale of the stuff.  Currently, cannabis dispensaries are only located within t......


County Planning Commission gives two cannabis projects the go-ahead

By ZAC EZZONE

After numerous hearings, the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission recently approved two cannabis cultivation projects and denied one. On Nov. 6, the commission discussed winemaker Blair Pence’s appeals filed over the county’s approval of the Santa Rita Valle......


Cannabis planting is taking over the Santa Ynez Valley

By JB Baker, Buellton

I live in Buellton and have lived in the Santa Ynez Valley for more than 50 years and have never been so sick with allergies as I have this fall. Thanks, cannabis growers who never quit planting, harvesting, and planting again. The “wet skunk” odor permeates our ......


Planning commission chair asks for significant changes to cannabis project

By Zac Ezzone

After a nearly nine-hour meeting on Oct. 30, the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission delayed making a decision on an appeal of a land use permit for a cannabis farm in Buellton after the commission’s chair requested significant changes be made to the project. Com......


Anti-cannabis sentiments are rooted in bigotry

By ERIK HUBER

It has become evident that local NIMBY watch groups (arguing against land-use rights) need an education on the history of cannabis as a medicine in America and as a modern weapon of bigotry. I’m happy to oblige. Spanish colonists with trading ties to the African conti......


County holds preliminary hemp regulation discussion

By Zac Ezzone

While the federal government is still crafting a regulatory framework for industrial hemp, Santa Barbara County is beginning to figure out how the crop will become part of the local agriculture industry. Hemp is a variety of cannabis with a THC concentration of less than ......


Planning Commission gives green light to Nipomo cannabis grow

By KASEY BUBNASH

Cannabis will continue to be farmed on a 29-acre lot in Nipomo after a fervent debate over the project’s proximity to a local elementary school. At a meeting on Sept. 12, the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission voted 4-1 to approve a conditional use permit fo......


Farm groups hold first cannabis, wine panel to promote tourism

By Zac Ezzone

Despite the tension between the wine and cannabis industries in some parts of Santa Barbara County, the two share many similarities, from their customer bases to regulatory burdens.  More than 100 vintners, farmers, and interested residents packed the event space at ......


County delayed cannabis-permit appeal hearings

By Zac Ezzone

It will be almost another two months before the county Planning Commission hears appeals filed over two cannabis cultivation projects.  The appeals, filed by winemaker Blair Pence over the proposed cannabis projects off Highway 246 in Buellton, had been continued to Se......


Advisory Council opposes cannabis grow near Nipomo school

By Kasey Bubnash

A local agricultural company wants to grow cannabis on a 29-acre lot in Nipomo, but the project is facing scrutiny because of its proximity to an elementary school. At its meeting on Aug. 26, the South County Advisory Council discussed the proposed grow, which would be ru......


Dispensary applicants in Solvang have one building to choose from

By WILLIAM D'URSO

Solvang dipped a toe into the marijuana industry last year when the City Council voted to welcome in medical dispensaries. The catch, Mayor Ryan Toussaint said, is that the city ordinance relegates potential dispensaries to just one area called the “Allowable Zone&rdq......


Sonoma's cannabis cap created compatibility

By Sharyne Merritt, Buellton

So why is cannabis cultivation compatible with wine in Sonoma County but not in Santa Barbara County? The cover story of last week’s Sun (“Struggling to get along,” Aug. 22) about conflicts in Santa Barbara County between cannabis and other crops points ou......


Cannabis farmers argue their crop is compatible with other crops, despite winemakers' concerns

By ZAC EZZONE

In the early morning, low-lying fog rolls into the Santa Rita Hills, obscuring the view of the vineyards and farms dotting the countryside. Quails, rabbits, and squirrels scurry to safety as the occasional car zips by on Santa Rosa Road, which cuts through the area, connecti......


Supervisors change directions on cannabis retail plan

By Zac Ezzone

Santa Barbara County scrapped its plan for rolling out cannabis retail stores throughout the county, weeks after it was supposed to be implemented. The county plans to allow a maximum of eight retail stores to operate. One store is allowed in each of the county’s si......


County covers library deficit with cannabis revenue

By Zac Ezzone

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors filled a roughly $68,000 gap in funding for three of the county’s libraries at a recent meeting, but questions over the long-term sustainability of the libraries remain unanswered. During discussions about the county&rsquo......


Santa Barbara County sees spike in farmers seeking to grow industrial hemp

By ZAC EZZONE

While cannabis has been the subject of much debate in Santa Barbara County over the past year, there’s been less discussion on hemp, a variety of the plant. That may soon change, however, as farmers’ interest in the crop grows and as the county awaits federal cul......











Weekly Poll
Are you getting your child vaccinated for COVID-19 now that it's allowed for those 5 and older?

Absolutely, we've been waiting for this for months.
I think I will eventually, maybe when it gets full FDA approval, but I won't be the first in line.
I would rather not, but if the schools require it, I guess I'll have to.
No way. I'll pull my kids out of school before getting them vaccinated.

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