Santa Barbara grows a third of California’s marijuana, thanks to political loopholes

August 3, 2021   |   By KCRW.com

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Santa Barbara County only has 1.8% of California’s land, but it has 35% of the state’s pot cultivation licenses.

That might be good news for county jobs and revenue. But it has negatively affected avocado and wine industries, which are more traditionally associated with the coastal county. And there’s an uptick in resident complaints about the smell of cannabis.

The meteoric rise of cannabis is thanks to a close relationship between the industry, its lobbyists, and local political leaders.

A scathing grand jury report that came out last week documents what journalist Jerry Roberts calls “a disgraceful political process teeming with influence peddling, secrecy and sleaze.”

Two county supervisors used a political loophole to meet in private and create legislation without public knowledge. The report notes that industry leaders were in contact with county supervisors right before key votes, and provided tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.

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