Santa Barbara approves temporary ban on growing & selling marijuana
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he Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved a “temporary moratorium” on all cultivation of non-medical marijuana approved under the recent California law.
The temporary ban on recreational marijuana will last 45 days, after which the board will reconvene and likely extend the ban to last until the board has completed its rules and regulations for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or AUMA, a process that could take up to 24 months. The new law will not affect AUMA’s legalization of marijuana use, simply the cultivation of the product, a crucial step in the process.
The Adult Use of Marijuana Act passed on November 9th, 2016 with 57% voting in approval. Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, but AUMA allowed for the personal use and cultivation of marijuana provided the party has proper licensing. That proper licensing has proved a hefty problem, as legal marijuana dispensaries and state officials have struggled to find a solution to the law rife with both voter approval and legal contradiction.
The state intends to regulate the industry and keep unlicensed sale of marijuana illegal, but given that the industry has for so long been largely unlicensed and remains a federal crime, the shift presents many complications.
Santa Barbara County is one of many counties across the state struggling with the statewide legalization of the federal crime. Questions remain regarding driving, employment drug tests, and banking for dispensaries following the passing of AUMA.
The Board of Supervisor’s moratorium on the law represents a step that many counties may take to curb some of confusion and not “fly an airplane while building it,” as many officials have described the implementation of the new law.
The state and county will be able to issue licenses and permits beginning January 1st, 2018, per the new law, but City Councilman Michael C. Ghizzoni fears no licenses will be able to be given out until later that year. Before they hand out the permits, they must decide on a system.
Between themselves, supervisors Das Williams and Steve Lavagnino created an ad hoc committee to “help develop the ordinance, license and permit processes, fees and taxes,” per the Santa Maria Times. Lavagnino noted the sheer amount of options they could use, without giving an example of one. John Thiella of the Santa Barbara Business Council offered an ordinance for the county to use as a template and joined the committee.
Williams expressed interest in a plan that makes clear a “differentiation between people who are trying to be in compliance with the law and people who are loosey-goosey with the law,” according to the Santa Maria Sun.
Members of the cannabis community expressed concerns for a system to ensure legal cannabis businesses thrive over unlicensed, under-the-table dealers. A local registry was oft touted as a solution to the county’s problems with the black market sections of the industry.