Wednesday, February 8, 2023     Volume: 23, Issue: 49

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 14th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 25 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 25

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 Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors plans to implement a merit-based system to choose the business owners who will receive permits to operate cannabis retail stores in the county.

The county plans to allow a maximum of eight retail stores to operate. One store is allowed in each of the county’s six community plans, such as Orcutt, and two stores are allowed in the unincorporated areas of the county. 

This outline is still in place, but the process for selecting those few business operators has changed. Initially, the county planned to implement a lottery-based system where random potential applicants that meet the county’s requirement would be chosen. 

At its Aug. 20 meeting, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted to move away from this approach and directed staff to instead develop an outline for a merit-based system where points are awarded to the best projects. 

“I believe people awarded these licenses should be awarded on the basis of what they offer to the community,” 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann said at the meeting. 

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino was the lone dissenting vote against this move. He said this method leaves the county open to criticism and allegations of corruption because the county would be in the position to choose between operators. With the lottery system, the business owners are chosen by chance. However, he admitted a lottery also has a downside.

“The pro for me is that we’re hands off,” Lavagnino said. “The con is we might not get the operator that we want.”

County staff will come back with outlines for this merit-based approach at a future Board of Supervisors meeting. 

While the county has yet to outline retail plans for cannabis, Lompoc continues to lead cities in the area in regard to retail stores. Currently, there are three dispensaries open with another one coming soon, Lompoc Public Information Officer Samantha Scroggin said. The city has received a total of 31 applications so far and has approved and issued licenses to 18 operators. 

In addition to this discussion over cannabis retail stores, supervisors approved the first readings of a few changes to the county’s cannabis cultivation regulations

Supervisors approved a first reading of a cap that limits the amount of cannabis allowed to be cultivated throughout the unincorporated parts of the county to 1,575 acres. Additionally, the changes require cannabis farmers currently operating under a state provisional license to demonstrate the effectiveness of their odor control system earlier in the application process. These changes will be placed on the board’s Aug. 27 agenda for adoption.

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