This summer, cannabis growers will likely hit the county’s 186-acre cap on zoning permits in the Carpinteria Valley, now the largest greenhouse cannabis-producing region in California.

It’s a milestone that will trigger two critical deadlines: one of perhaps six months, officials say, for “legal-nonconforming” operators without permit approvals to stop growing cannabis altogether; and another, of perhaps a year, for growers with approvals to obtain a county business license or lose their place under the cap.

Carpinterians have filed 2,340 odor complaints with the county since mid-2018, including a number this year, but county officials have said all along they can’t address them until all the growers have obtained their zoning permits, the next step after a formal approval. To date, the county has issued permits for only 68 acres of cannabis. And even with all 186 acres permitted, officials say, it will be hard to pinpoint which operator is to blame for an odor because so many greenhouses are clustered closely together.

In the meantime, the county Board of Supervisors continues to churn out a steady stream of approvals for growers, predictably overriding all objections in fulfilling the primary mission it first set out in the cannabis ordinance of 2018: to "develop a robust and economically viable legal cannabis industry." A blistering county Grand Jury report would later find that the board “simply opened the floodgates,” altering the quality of life in this county “perhaps forever.”

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