As of July 31, Santa Barbara County has collected $15.7 million in tax revenue from state-licensed cannabis operators for the fiscal year 2020/2021 which ended on June 30, according to a letter from county staff to the Board of Supervisors.
The sum indicates a $3.5 million increase over the previous fiscal year, which saw a total of $12.2 million in cannabis tax revenue for the county.
In the 2020/2021 fourth quarter, however, the county received $3.8 million in cannabis gross tax receipts, which is a 45% decrease from the tax collected for the same period the year before. County staff speculated that the tax decrease – which was reflected in low wholesale prices more generally in the cannabis sector – may be related to cultivation exceeding current demand in California.
In the fourth quarter, the county collected taxes from 58 state-licensed cannabis operators and conducted nine enforcement actions against cannabis operators. Nearly 7,000 plants were eradicated, 1,615 pounds of cannabis product was confiscated, and 10 arrests were made. The total street value for the cannabis confiscated was $6.1 million.
During this final quarter, the county received 518 cannabis complaints ranging from disturbances with the lighting to questions about unpermitted structures. But the vast majority of complaints – some 495 – were cannabis odor complaints stemming from the Carpinteria Valley. Odor complaints, county staff noted, are often submitted with multiple instances detected and the nearly 500 odor complaints reflect each instance documented as a separate complaint.
“A majority of odor complaints in the Carpinteria area continue to originate from unpermitted, nonconforming grows,” stated the letter.
The county also approved seven projects for cannabis land use entitlements and issued two cannabis business licenses. Since its inception, the county’s cannabis program has considered 181 proposals for land use entitlements and issued only 34 permits for it.
Seventy-two operators submitted applications for business licenses and 24 have been issued. The county has capped business licenses at 123.
The county will be hiring two new cannabis business license specialists to support the application review process. The county also plans to continue its tax audit process.