Green Wave Hits Central Coast

Green Wave Hits Central Coast

Protection for state medical cannabis extended by federal budget amendment

With State licensing approaching in January for medical and non-medical cannabis, local authorities have begun embracing the possibilities available to them under the State’s newly reconciled Medicinal and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA). It seems that the “green wave” may have hit the Central Coast at last. Recent actions from San Luis Obispo to Grover’s Beach to Santa Barbara and Port Hueneme show that local governments are warming to the idea of cannabis industry.

Grover’s Beach and Port Hueneme both recently began offering applications for medical cannabis operations within their jurisdictions. The city and county of Santa Barbara are working to develop regulations for cultivation, retail and testing.

The city of Carpinteria recently convened an ad hoc committee to investigate permitting commercial cannabis operations within the city. And even Lompoc, after initially toying with draconian regulations on personal cultivation, has done an about face and is investigating permitting of commercial cannabis.

Local governments are recognizing the strong voter support for medical and non-medical cannabis, and are implementing that approval for commercial cannabis to help plug holes in city and county budgets everywhere. But as more jurisdictions green light commercial cultivation and retail sales, major economic and social changes are sure to follow.

Legalization and capitalization of the cannabis market

The legalization and capitalization of the cannabis market, projected to reach $7.8 billion by 2020, can only come with major economic change. Where no money was made before (no legal money that is), literally billions is projected to come pouring into the coffers of businesses across the State.

Along with that economic growth comes millions in tax revenue to fund State programs benefiting law enforcement, research and development, and education. The Central Coast, home to an unrivaled agricultural community, world-class universities, high-tech research and manufacturing – not to mention a unique tourist destination like no other – is uniquely positioned to benefit from mobilization of the cannabis industry.

However, the end of cannabis prohibition may be slow to take root in the hearts of so many who have spent their entire lives supporting the “war on drugs” and teaching generations to “say no.”

Recent upset in Carpinteria over the impending regulation of cultivation in the bordering regions of unincorporated Santa Barbara County are a case in point. Though many farmers and flower growers have been quick to accept the new normal and wish to incorporate cannabis into their crops, many others in the perennially conservative agricultural community are steadfastly against permitting cannabis operations. The main complaint of those opposed to cannabis cultivation seems to be the smell, but foul odors don’t usually warrant the vociferous outcry that cannabis cultivation has unleashed. But in the face of law that has already moved on, hanging on to any thread that might still give some leverage is a natural reaction.

The city of Lompoc initially sought to meet the challenge of Prop. 64 by prohibiting all commercial cannabis activity, and so restricting personal cultivation (which cannot be prohibited outright under Prop. 64) that virtually no one could comply with all the regulations, and therefore, personal use could be prohibited de facto. But local public consternation with government overreach in the face of clear majority opinion, turned the tide, and recently, the city council directed its staff to begin investigating appropriate regulations to allow commercial cannabis activity within the city.

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