Money and Business

Future of cannabis operations in Santa Barbara County detailed in new report

Public can weigh in until Nov. 16

Draft EIR released for public input...

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The possible future of cannabis operations in Santa Barbara County is detailed in a 308-page draft Environment Impact Report (EIR) released by county officials.

In Nov. 2016, the majority of California voters agreed to allow recreational cannabis across the state. State officials created regulations for the county and other jurisdictions to develop their own ordinances to allow or prohibit cannabis growing and distribution.

The draft EIR by the Planning and Development department looks at various cannabis related activities and impacts to neighborhoods and the general health, safety, and welfare of the community. 

"There are some impacts we cannot mitigate in the EIR based on cannabis activities. These have to do with noise, traffic, and air quality," said Jessica Metzger, a senior planner with Santa Barbara County Planning and Development.

Other impacts may be able to be mitigated with "additional development standards," according to Metzger. Those standards could include lighting and fencing for grows and increased security and video systems for dispensaries.

Earlier this year, county officials asked growers to "self-report" their cannabis activity.

Here are the numbers provided by the county:

  • Past cultivators = 240  
  • Current cultivators = 216  
  • Those that want to cultivate in the future = 506

The draft also contains four alternatives to the proposed Plan: No Project, Alternative 1, Alternative 2, and Alternative 3.

Santa Ynez Valley resident Alex Jones said an EIR is important to have especially for cannabis which has, he said "been in the shadows for so long."

Jones said he is in favor of recreational marijuana, but wants to make sure it fits with the "character" of the county.

"I think typically in situations like this, big 300 plus page EIR's, get put out to the public with very little notice and for private citizens doing this on their lunch break or on the weekends, it's very difficult to fight the system, especially with something being steamrolled," Jones said.

Cannabis cultivation would most likely be allowed in agricultural zones and industrial areas. But, Metzer said, "This is not a done deal by any means."

Click here to read the full Draft EIR report.

The public is allowed to comment until Nov. 16 at 5 p.m.

The final draft of the EIR will be presented to planning commissioners in January after the final draft process and input from the community.

The planning commissioners will take the final draft and make their recommendations to the County Board Supervisors in February 2018. A final decision on whether to allow or prohibit cannabis activities in the county is expected in February 2018.

Residents can email their comments to or mail to 123 East Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.

For more information, visit

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