US (CA): Santa Barbara County’s new rules would promote local processing, boost tax

Under pressure from growers, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors is tinkering with the acreage caps in its cannabis licensing ordinance, a move it says will encourage the construction of marijuana processing buildings in unincorporated areas and staunch the loss of tax revenue to other California counties.

On February 15, the board voted 4-1 in concept, with Chair Joan Hartmann opposed, to remove buildings for the “drying, curing, and trimming” of cannabis from the acreage caps for “grows” in the Carpinteria Valley and North County. These caps have been set at 186 acres and 1,575 acres, respectively, since 2019.

Citing “very few existing or proposed processing facilities in the county,” the County Executive Officer told the board this month that the county faces “a substantial loss of tax revenue” because locally grown marijuana is being trucked elsewhere for processing. At today’s prices, growers say, unprocessed marijuana is fetching roughly $200 per pound, compared to $1,800 per pound of dry, trimmed, and packaged marijuana.

The amendments now on the table, county officials said, would result in more processing buildings here, including stand-alone buildings on properties where no cannabis is under cultivation. Typically, they would be about 25,000 square feet in size.


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