Correcting Some Cannabis Whoppers

Supervisor Das Williams, the architect and driver of Santa Barbara County’s Cannabis Ordinance, is now protesting that he was merely an incidental player. Now, that’s rich!

The record shows, however, that despite pleas from fellow
supervisors and constituents for a decent interval while Santa Barbara buried
its dead last year, Williams wanted a cannabis vote ASAP. Multiple sources
affirm that he refused to postpone the key cannabis vote beyond February 6,
2018 — when many in his 1st District were either evacuated or reeling in shock.
“Due to the … evacuation notices for the Carpinteria Thomas Fire burn
area, we request the Board continue the item so that the public may be present
to provide input,” wrote one Carpinteria Valley Association director.
Throughout the month, then-supervisor Janet Wolf, Cate School, the City of
Carpinteria and others would also ask for postponements. (All documents are
available through the Public Records Act; also, see Board of Supervisors
meeting of January 23, 2019: https://youtu.be/VEKItFssGtw?t=10568.)

And it is hard to recall any Central Coast politician
letting loose such vitriol on a constituent in the Independent, especially
a supervisor who has his own bully pulpit and PR apparatus to say whatever he
wants anytime — while making a taxpayer-paid hefty six-figure salary.

I’m told, however, I should not have been surprised. There
was Williams’s televised attack on another constituent who dared to criticize
his central role in pushing for cannabis. Or his campaign tactics against Janet
Wolf and Susan Jordan — forging new lows in county politics.

For the record, credit for Supervisor Williams being dubbed
half of the Doobie Brothers (with colleague Supervisor Steve Lavagnino) goes to
Kelsey Brugger, formerly of the Independent, who saw this train coming long before me. As for Lavagnino,
I’ll let his constituents speak for themselves.

Sadly, Williams still doesn’t grasp that his Cannabis
Ordinance — a larded-up gift to the cannabis industry — is the most devastating
legislation since the supervisors voted for offshore oil drilling in the 1960s.
Nor can he blame the state of California as no other county in the state has
refused to put limits on cannabis grows — nor hands out temporary licenses for
free.

I can’t say when the cannabis “oil spill” is
coming, but we all know that the damage is growing exponentially. Consider how
it came to be that Carpinteria High School is virtually surrounded by cannabis
nurseries — not by 1,000 feet as mandated by sensible federal law — and urged
by Wolf, Carp’s school superintendent (memorialized in two letters in 2017), environmental
activists, and residents — but by a mere 600 feet. Bad odors and cannabis
by-products, say students and teachers, often fill the grounds and classrooms,
especially in the morning.

Lacking the time or space to correct every line, here are
the supervisor’s whoppers: While Humboldt County has recently been catching up
a bit, as of May 16, 2019, Santa Barbara County has authorized the state to issue
an astounding total of 3,316 cannabis licenses as opposed to Humboldt’s 2,356.
That not a difference of 12. Need I add that Santa Barbara County leads all
counties in the state (with just 2 percent of the population) and currently
holds 42 percent of all provisional licenses in the state (good for a full
year). Another detail omitted: Humboldt County allows just 6 acres per cannabis
license but Williams pushed for no
limits here in S.B.. Hence, S.B. has pot grows of 70 to 100 acres, upending the
lives of so many and damaging our lucrative wine and avocado industries.

And as recently pointed out in a brief by counsel for the Santa
Barbara Coalition for Responsible Cannabis and submitted to the Coastal
Commission, Williams and the Board of Supervisors could take action tomorrow to direct all legal
non-conforming cannabis operations to be investigated and shut down if they
lied on affidavits or expanded their operations — as we know many have.

The unavoidable fact is that Das Williams is the face of Santa
Barbara County cannabis — revered (and well-rewarded) by pot growers and
rebuked by many residents, farmers, and vintners who say they have been thrown
under the bus.

I’m delighted to hear reports that he is now willing to
listen to critics and not just industry-packed “ad hoc committees” — a
development, if true, that is long overdue.

Put me down as willing and available!

Yet, it’s curious that he would liken our cannabis nightmare
to a sitcom.

So we’re wondering what the punch line is … because we’re
not laughing yet.

P.S. My print and online Voices have the same content except for cuts as mandated by print space limits.

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