The article “Cannabis industry adds $458 million annually to countywide economy” (CVN, Vol. 25, No. 46) is a reminder that there is another side to the cannabis story. The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of the current regulations (only Peter Adam voted no because he wanted even less regulation). They did so in order to bring economic resources to an area facing serious economic threats, not least of which was Carpinteria.
I don’t want to minimize the negative impacts on area residents. They deserve attention and remediation. Supervisor Das Williams has been working hard to make that happen. But when his opponents treat him as if he is just a pawn of the cannabis lobby, they are ignoring what really drove him and the board: bringing economic resources to the region and promoting policies that would transform a looming $6 million county budget deficit into a $3.5 million budget surplus. And they are ignoring the fact that the entire board supported this approach.
For those of us working on county services, this was a huge boon. I advocate on animal issues, and I remember being warned that Animal Services was likely to lose funding. Supervisor Williams was firm that fiscal necessity was going to hit all programs across the county. It was a gift when, just a year later, the cuts did not materialize. This was because of the revenue generated by the cannabis industry.
Are there problems that need to be addressed? Absolutely. But remember this: The county had just one year to pull together its own ordinance and preserve local control over cannabis production, or have to swallow whatever the state forced down our throats. That’s not a lot of time to get every element right.
It’s hard to be patient while the problems get addressed, especially for those most immediately affected. But let’s give the county, and Supervisor Williams, time to succeed.