A grand jury in Santa Barbara, California criticized the county’s hashish rules in a report launched this week, writing that members of the Board of Supervisors allowed marijuana companies to dictate coverage and did not serve the pursuits of the county’s residents. The grand jury, which serves as an oversight physique for county companies, wrote within the report that it had acquired a number of requests to research the actions of the board in relation to the creation of the county’s hashish rules.

The grand jury took concern with the institution of an advert hoc committee that was fashioned by the board in 2017 to create rules for adult-use hashish cultivation within the county. The committee was made up of two county supervisors, Das Williams and Steve Lavagnino, and was not topic to open assembly legal guidelines as is customary for many land-use points. The report, which didn’t identify people in accordance with grand jury coverage, criticized the shortage of transparency and the committee’s shut relationship with hashish business representatives.

“The Board of Supervisors granted nearly unfettered access to cannabis growers and industry lobbyists that was undisclosed to the public during the creation of the cannabis ordinances,” the county grand jury wrote. “On March 20, 2018, the most extreme example was an email sent by a Board member to a lobbyist, during a Board meeting, asking the lobbyist if they agreed with a [planning and development] staff recommendation.”

Licensing And Taxation Rules Questioned

Among different points, the grand jury was important of the licensing of cultivation operations within the county. The rules didn’t restrict the dimensions of economic hashish farms and allowed anybody who filed an affidavit stating that they had been rising medical marijuana on a specific property to use for a license for the positioning. No system for verifying the affidavits was applied, a weak point that’s extensively believed to have been taken benefit of by lots of the county’s now-licensed growers.

“Without question, one of the most perplexing decisions made by the Board was the utilization of an unverified affidavit system,” the jury wrote.

The grand jury report additionally decried the taxation scheme put in place by the board, which was primarily based on a agency’s gross receipts relatively than on the operation’s space, a system that’s extra customary and simpler to confirm.

“I’m trying to generate what could be $20 [million] to $40 million a year for the county,” Lavagnino said at a board assembly in February 2019.

However, the board discovered that the county solely collected $6.eight million in taxes within the 2018-2019 fiscal yr for 217 acres of permitted cultivation. In comparability, close by Monterey County collected $15.four million from 62 acres the identical yr.

Grand Jury Calls For Change

Writing that the board’s actions in assist of a strong hashish business had “altered the quality of life in Santa Barbara County, perhaps forever,” the grand jury known as for the hashish rules to be revised.

“The Jury believes the Board of Supervisors, in their hubris, failed the people of Santa Barbara County,” the report reads. “Now they must amend the cannabis ordinances to regain the people’s trust.”

But the county supervisors who served on the advert hoc committee defended the hashish rules whereas saying the grand jury’s issues can be addressed. Lavagnino mentioned on Thursday that the grand jury is biased towards the legalization of hashish and Williams mentioned that the panel solely pursued “one side of the story.” 

“The demographics of the grand jury are not reflective of the county as a whole,” Lavagnino mentioned. “It is not at all surprising to me that a group of predominantly white senior citizens is uncomfortable accepting that cannabis is now mainstream. We will review their recommendations and answer them as required.”

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