In 2019, we commissioned the first county-wide survey of almost 1000 voters about cannabis related policy issues and what voters felt about its future promise.

Today, we take a moment to reflect on voters’ responses to a few significant questions that helped our community build friendships and partnerships with wine growers, vineyards, local business organizations and agricultural tourism efforts.

Survey Question #17 stated the following;

Do you agree that the local cannabis industry and the wine tasting and vineyard industry should work together to spur economic growth, create good paying jobs and contribute to the overall quality of life of the local community?

  • A resounding 62% strongly agreed and the respondents political affiliations were equally telling with 70% of Democrats, 50% of Republicans and 62% of Independents across the board in support.


We asked a follow up question to probe respondents thinking on the topic.

Survey Question #18: Do you support co-branding and co-marketing among the local cannabis farmers and wine growers to help grow the economy and produce good paying jobs?

  • Once again voters in the county responded with 63% strongly agree and only 14% in disagreement, with more than 60 percent support across every political party affiliation – including independents.

Well we listened, and we’ve been working diligently with our friends in the wine industry, business and travel experts and policy makers who also carry our mutual love to preserve our farmlands and agriculture. Progress has been made, and soon we will launch a new experience.

In the meantime, we invite you to register to receive its newsletter at Santa Barbara Sun Grown, please click here:

As we enter spring and enjoy warm days with cool evenings, we are reminded every day of how special and unique our valley is and its deep history of farming innovation and collective promise. Let us share in that promise to share its prosperity for all who care about its future.

We welcome your feedback and ideas.

In friendship,

Sara Rotman and John De Friel, Co-Founders

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Momentum continues to build among congressional leaders in support of federal legislation to recognize cannabis and address criminal justice reform, banking and commerce regulatory issues.

This week a large group of bi-partisan members of Congress re-introduced the Safe Banking Act of 2021 to provide additional safe harbor provisions for banks, credit unions and insurance companies.

It is very likely that the Safe Banking Act will pass in some form this year and in doing so will give the green light to local and regional banks and financial institutions to provide comprehensive financial services to legal cannabis businesses and farmers. This proposal is strongly supported by the American Bankers Association, US Credit Union Association and the Insurance Agents Organization.

Santa Barbara County has a wealth and diverse group of banks, credit unions and insurance providers who may benefit when the legislative proposal passes this year and is signed into law by the President either as a stand alone bill or part of a larger comprehensive legislative package.

Concurrently, the Congressional leaders of the House of Representatives announced this week that they will re-introduce the MORE ACT to deliberate the final details to outright legalize cannabis and provide a regulatory framework to move forward as soon as possible.

Equally important, the Senate Majority Leader, Chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and a Senator who’s voice echoes the great civil rights leader John Lewis, got together over the weekend and produced a video – declaring their strong commitment and collective purpose to pass a comprehensive cannabis legislative package this year. Click here to view.

Closer to home, we as a community and a family are beginning to see and experience the careful re-opening of local businesses, restaurants, eateries, cafés, parks and beaches. We stand hopeful and grateful with all of our friends, neighbors and community who leaned in over the past year and provided good counsel and helpful advice to keep the faith, stay united, continue to outreach, build coalitions and strengthen local partnerships.

To this end, we invite you to celebrate with us and hundreds more a fun loving annual event, here – in our community, the Buellton Brew Festival!

This year, for obvious reasons, the Buellton Brew Fest will be celebrated creatively from the comforts of your home, garage or backyards – bringing music, entertainment, craft beers and local wine to your doorstep.

Click here to get your tickets

This is our moment as a community to continue to demonstrate our resolve and strength to be the best outdoor, sungrown, organic cannabis farmers in the region – integrating the most effective water and environmentally sustainable practices that state regulators frequently recognize.

We welcome your feedback and insights.

Tell a friend and join us.

In appreciation,

Sara and John

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Last night, Governor Newsom delivered his State of the State annual address from Dodgers Baseball Stadium and although he addressed many relevant and critical issues, a couple of statements stand out to us as a declared essential industry and economic growth contributor that touches every facet mentioned below.

Our agricultural industry feeds the nation….California has the most innovation, venture capital, and small-business investment in this country. We will keep investing and fostering every small entrepreneur – the drivers of our GDP.Gov. Gavin Newsom

We couldn’t agree more. Our cannabis farmers and entrepreneurs have literally led the state in stabilizing the workforce and providing economic security for tens of thousands of workers – 40,000 statewide and more than 2,500 here close to home.

At the national level more than 240,000 cannabis full time jobs have been created and it is currently the fastest growing industry in the United States, showing double-digit growth since 2017.

States such as Arizona, Florida, Oregon and Oklahoma are aggressively attracting more and more investments and government assistance to grow their cannabis economy. According to the recent Leafly 2020 Jobs Report, Arizona, Oregon and Oklahoma cannabis economy grew by more than 19% from 2019 – 2020, creating more than 42,000 full time jobs and having a combined market value of approximately $1.9 billion.

More good news was presented this week by the County of Santa Barbara – general tax revenues exceeded expectations with cannabis taxes leading the way at $3.4 million, followed by property transfer taxes at $2.5 million and sales taxes at $1.7 million. Only county property taxes surpassed cannabis with more than $3.5 million collected. Read more on the Lompoc Record

Santa Barbara County Supervisor Das Williams reflected on the good news: “Cannabis has saved public services…I do think there’s a pressing need to use marijuana tax revenue as an ongoing source.” – Santa Maria Times, 3/5/21

According to the California League of Cities, more municipalities that onced banned all cannabis operations will start to open up in 2021, having seen the jobs, tax revenue and public health benefits of a highly regulated industry.

The future economic picture for the state is looking brighter, but we must also stay united and remain diligent against anti-cannabis forces who continue to spread falsehoods and misinformation in an effort to try to undermine the County’s “cannabis ordinance” and state laws.

We are hopeful that better days are ahead and encouraged by the local community leadership to invigorate collaborations between “wine and cannabis” to promote and develop regional tourism initiatives, benefiting our local hotel and lodging industry.

Stay in touch, send us your ideas and join our efforts.

With gratitude,

Sara and John

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Lompoc Record, March 3, 2021

General revenues that exceeded those expected when the budget was crafted last year include secured property taxes by more than $3.5 million, cannabis taxes by nearly $3.4 million, property transfer taxes by almost $2.5 million and sales taxes by more than $1.7 million.

“Cannabis has saved public services,” said 1st District Supervisor Das Williams, who said the county’s financial experience this year is “wildly different” from that of other jurisdictions.

Read more here

This week the U.S. Cannabis Council (USCC), a newly formed strategic alliance of progressive equity and cannabis national leaders, issued their policy priorities for the new Congress. A few of their priorities include:

  • De-scheduling cannabis from the list of controlled substances
  • Building upon the MORE Act passed by the House of Representatives
  • Support for meaningful social equity policies and programs

More importantly, USCC ( asked President Biden to consider an executive order to pardon all non-violent federal cannabis offenders and expunge criminal records associated with non-violent cannabis-related offenses. In California, through Proposition 64 and the leadership of both former Governor Jerry Brown and Governor Newsom, we have been leading the way on social equity initiatives and restorative justice reforms. We support these measures nationally, and remain hopeful that both the President and the Congressional Leadership move in unison to enact them into federal law relatively soon.

In Santa Barbara County, we are fiercely committed to ending the food insecurity issues faced by our most vulnerable populations, especially in North County. The county has the 3rd highest rate of food insecurity in the state, and we must be resilient with our ongoing partnership with the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County to deliver food and other vital resources to families and children in need. Please take a moment and donate here.

Finally, we would like to highlight one of our local farmers, Khalid Al Naser – who shares his passion for farming in a “The Cannabis Corner” feature in the Santa Barbara Independent, written by reporter Matt Kettmann. You can read about Khalid’s story here.

Let’s continue our strong support for community engagement and advocacy as we face an ever changing regulatory and political landscape this year.

Together We Will Thrive,

Sara and John

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Santa Barbara Independent, February 16, 2021

…Raw Garden focuses primarily on the products themselves rather than marketing hype or shiny packaging. “Lifestyle brands are great and definitely something that’s tangible for a lot of companies,” said Al-Naser. “But when we’re talking about normalization, being able to highlight the product, the inputs, the process, and the practices that go into making that, that helps consumer confidence.”

“If you’re making medicine for little sick girls and old ladies, which is where our genesis comes from, you don’t want to be boastful or bragging about how cool your stuff is,” he explained. “We really try not to pound our chests too hard about anything. I think that detracts from the product, which should be the main focus.”

Read more here

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act was passed on a bi-partisan majority vote in December by the House of Representatives.

The MORE Act will decriminalize marijuana and remove it from the federal schedule of controlled substances, and provide for regulation and taxation of legal cannabis sales. According to the most recent Gallup Poll survey, more than 68% of Americans believe cannabis should be legal. At the federal level, cannabis arrests, charges and convictions would be automatically expunged at no cost to the individual. The Bill would ensure the federal government could not discriminate against people because of cannabis use.

More than 600,000 Americans are arrested or cited every year for cannabis possession.

Today 15 states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult-use of cannabis and another 36 states have approved medical cannabis programs.

What’s Next

Senate Majority Leader Schumer has selected Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden, Chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, to draft a comprehensive federal legislative proposal incorporating some of restorative justice reform provisions in the MORE Act and other provisions that will set federal policy on a path toward correcting an unfair system, ensure interstate commerce and fairly regulate consumer protections.

“Serious criminal justice reform cannot begin in our country without ending the war on cannabis. Removing criminal and non-criminal penalties is essential to a more just society. Simple possession charges or a conviction can end the hopes of getting a place to live, an education or a job. Cannabis arrests, charges and convictions should be automatically removed from individual criminal histories. Our nation seeks to rebuild its economy, we should not hold back hope because of outdated laws that have been unevenly enforced and that most Americans no longer support. The cannabis community now generates billions in sales and hundreds of millions in state tax revenues, critical for states facing budget challenges of historic proportions. Here, close to home, in Santa Barbara County we have developed programs that have created thousands of jobs and generated local economic activities for contractors, suppliers, professional services and support for small family-owned businesses. We are humbled and take pride every day of our efforts in building the very best cannabis sun-grown community in the region.” –Sara Rotman and John De Friel, Co-founders of Good Farmers Great Neighbors

We remain confident, the future is bright and our state and region will continue to lead the way. Last year, Governor Newsom with the strong support of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), signed into law SB 185 to help protect cannabis farmers and allow producers to build brand awareness in counties and regions of the state to produce and manufacture high quality or organic cannabis farming and products.

Join us and together we will thrive,

Sara and John

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Lompoc Record, January 13, 2021

A cannabis cultivation operation on Santa Rosa Road near Buellton received a conditional use permit and development plan Jan. 13 with the unanimous approval of the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission after the company twice revised its odor control plan to address public and commission concerns.

Central Coast Agriculture has been operating the cultivation operation since before Jan. 19, 2016, and applied for the CUP and development plan to make the operation on the 68.19-acre parcel at 8701 Santa Rosa Road compliant with county ordinances.

The approval came after three hearings on the project and multiple revisions to the odor abatement plan, but some members of the public still objected to the odor plan and asked for more changes.

Read more here

Forbes, December 17, 2020

Raw Garden boasts over 2,000 cultivars grown on 85 acres of land in the lush Santa Barbara County. If you ask its CEO and co-founder John De Friel, Raw Garden’s ideology is farm-first.

It balances both realities, proving how cannabis brands can be a well-oiled agricultural machine that stays “small,” that is to say, humbled by its roots in the medical community and the need for accessibility.

Read more here

Santa Barbara Independent, October 21, 2020

Judge Thomas Anderle rejected a lawsuit filed by the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis that challenged the adequacy of the environmental review conducted as part of the County of Santa Barbara’s controversial new hoop-house ordinance, passed by the Board of Supervisors last year.

Traditionally, hoop houses have escaped the scrutiny of county environmental review on the grounds that they are agricultural implements and ag is generally exempt. But in recent years, the county has seen a significant proliferation of hoop houses — not just more, but bigger, too — fueled by an increase in berry production as well as cannabis cultivation.

Read more here