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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 (http://www.uscannabiscouncil.org/) 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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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

Hi Friend,

As the owner of Central Coast Agriculture (CCA) and co-Founder of Good Farmers Great Neighbors, John De Friel has worked tirelessly to develop cannabis as an emerging agricultural crop in North County. Learning from other farmers, he’s taken the time to incorporate decades of technological advancements in row crop farming with innovative technologies for water conservation and soil fertility, including hoop-houses, plastic mulch and drip irrigation.

Watch John’s ag beginnings, work to revitalize ag acreage in North County and plans for the future of ag tourism

Like so many of his peers, John and CCA have not been immune to permit challenges. After nearly two years, the County Planning Commission will be reviewing John’s permit on October 28th.

Will you take a minute to sign on to our petition to encourage agricultural best practices that are beneficial to the environment?

It takes all of us to promote the farming practices that tap into our proud agricultural traditions, benefit the environment and improve crop efficiency.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support. Together, we will thrive as good farmers and great neighbors.


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Santa Barbara News Press, October 6, 2020

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors is expected to deny an appeal filed against Castlerock Family Farms’ land-use permit application for cultivating 23 acres of cannabis in the Santa Ynez Valley.

According to the board letter for today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, county staff recommends the appeal filed by the Santa Barbara County Coalition for Responsible Cannabis be rejected on grounds that none of the issues it raises are of merit.

Read more here

Hi Friend,

First and foremost, our appreciation and salute to all State, County and City Firefighters who are protecting us from the most dreadful wildfires in California in a century.

To date, over 2.2 million acres of land have been scorched in 25 counties – including Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey. There’s been more than 7,606 fires statewide destroying an estimated 150 million trees. We send our prayers and thoughts to all firefighters, their families and the victims of these devastating burns.

Residents of North County in particular please be careful and diligent about smoke and air pollution. Avoid being outdoors and exposed to fire generated smoke and excessive heat.

Please follow the guidelines of both the Air Quality Boards of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.

Click below to learn more:

https://www.ourair.org/wildfire-smoke-and-health-infographic/

https://www.slocleanair.org/air-quality/wildfire.php

More Cannabis Tax Revenues

Over the past two fiscal years (2018 – 2020) Santa Barbara County has collected $19 million dollars. During the last reported fiscal quarter (April – June), Cannabis Farmers paid more than $5.5 million dollars in taxes to the County.

“It is important to understand that this revenue is significant … where other entities are cutting back dramatically their public services”, declared Supervisor Das Williams.

Santa Barbara County has dedicated 297 acres for cannabis farming, mostly in the Lompoc Valley with 104 acres, followed by Santa Ynez Valley with 97 acres, Carpinteria with 67 acres and Santa Maria with 19 acres for cultivation.

Governor Newsom’s executive order declaring the ‘cannabis supply-chain’ essential in March provided both marketplace certainty and regulatory reliance during an economic downturn experiencing massive unemployment, especially in the hospitality and food service sectors.

Our very own Sara Rotman, CEO of Busy Bee’s Organics, and her husband Nate Diaz were recently interviewed by Bloomberg TV (click to view) underscoring these efforts and how appreciative farmers are in doing what they love and retaining their local workforce.

Trends in Cannabis

A survey of 10,000 California Cannabis Consumers have shown a propensity to reduce or replace alcohol and pharmaceutical consumption to find relief and enjoyment from cannabis. See report here.

High Tax Rates Push Cannabis Consumers out of the Legal Market: The Importance of Proper State and Local Cannabis Tax Policy. See report here.

Other News:

Vintner’s 3rd Wine Bid Fails, Stephen Pepe of Clos Pepe Vineyards

Vintners announced they were scrapping their third Wine BID proposal- the 1 1⁄2% on tasting room sales and will next week propose 1% on all DTC sales which would include wine club sales but not wholesale wine sales to the Trade.

Spotlight:

Lompoc Mayor, Jenelle Osborne has been a leader on a mission. Her passion and energy to address and find practical solutions for the all the residents of Lompoc is exemplary. As Mayor, she has led efforts to attract various elements of the cannabis industry – including manufacturing, processing, laboratory testing and retail to anchor their operations in the City of Lompoc. As such, even during the COVID Pandemic, the City continues to experience economic growth and job creation. Moreover, Mayor Osborne is a dedicated public servant with unique skills to also address the area’s social ills of poverty, income inequality and social equity. She has a deep understanding of how public and private partnerships can improve the quality of life for all residents, especially the most vulnerable. Her optimistic energy is contagious and merits consideration of our support. Click here to learn more.

 

Thank you, as always, for your continued support. Together, we will thrive as good farmers and great neighbors.

 

 

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Santa Maria Times, August 29, 2020

“Since the stay-at-home mandate was imposed, the cannabis industry has experienced a sharp increase in consumer demand at the retail level, which in turn impacts the supply chain, creating an increased demand for product supplied by growers,” says the report, authored by fiscal and policy analysts Reese Ellestad and Steven Yee.

“Additionally, new operators are successfully navigating the county’s and state’s regulatory processes, and are therefore entering the market, thus generating new sales and new tax revenue,” the report says.

Read more here

Bloomberg,  July 19, 2020

Cannabis farmers and cannabis businesses, we don’t have access to unemployment, small business loans. We don’t have access to any of the rescue money that came for other businesses that were struggling so there’s no safety net for our business. — Sara Rotman, Wellfounded Botanicals

Watch full coverage here