Supervisors temporarily banned all activities related to recreational marijuana uses

Supervisors temporarily ban recreational marijuana uses
credit: Santa Ynez Valley News

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors temporarily banned all activities related to recreational marijuana Tuesday.The unanimous move to adopt a 45-day urgency ordinance came at the direction of county staff, who are working to craft permanent rules regulating licensing, permitting and tax and fee schedules for recreational use of cannabis in unincorporated areas.

“If you pass this today, all that would be allowed would be personal use in your home and the growing of six plants in your home,” Glenn Russell, county Planning and Development director, told the supervisors.As adopted, the urgency ordinance temporarily prohibits cultivation, distribution, transportation, storage, manufacturing and processing of recreational marijuana, while also banning the selling of cannabis and cannabis products for recreational use and the growth of industrial hemp.Personal indoor cultivation of six plants still will be permitted during the term of the urgency ordinance, and the cultivation of medical marijuana will not be affected by the temporary ban, which is set to expire May 19.

The county currently has an ordinance banning medical marijuana dispensaries as well as medical marijuana cultivation, with limited exceptions, in the unincorporated areas. The supervisors are expected to extend the ban by a possible 22 months at their May 2 meeting, although 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino made it clear the extension may not be for that length of time.

“It doesn’t mean that it will automatically be for 22 months,” Lavagnino said about the urgency ordinance. “I want to make that clear.”Californian voters passed Proposition 64 in November legalizing marijuana for recreational use, and the state is expected to begin issuing licenses to establish businesses such as cannabis clubs and pot shops by the deadline on Jan. 1, 2018.

Cities and counties across the state have been working to craft rules to govern the recreational use of cannabis to the extent allowed by law since Prop. 64 passed, although what future local rules and regulations will look like remains to be seen.”What may happen with a future ordinance is still up in the air,” said county planner Jessica Metzger during a staff presentation on the urgency ordinance at Tuesday’s board meeting.

First District Supervisor Das Williams said he would support the temporary ban because it was part of the process of getting to permanent rules for recreational marijuana use in the county, although he didn’t believe the urgency ordinance was going to stop those individuals who aren’t currently complying with county codes for growing marijuana to do so now.

“It’s not going to forestall some of the enforcement issues we have,” Williams said, noting to date the county has investigated 25 complaints related to marijuana grows.”We can’t force people to be good neighbors until we have the enforcement staff to force people to be good neighbors,” he added.

Lil Clary, longtime Tepusquet Canyon resident, also favored the temporary ban, noting she doesn’t believe marijuana cultivation is a compatible use in the dry canyon east of Santa Maria, where there have been complaints of illegal grows.