On November 8, California voters will decide whether or not to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Supporters of Proposition 64 say it would help tax and regulate an activity millions of Californians already partake in. Opponents say it’s unsafe and could increase crime.
To find out how legalized pot would affect Santa Barbara County, KCRW’s Larry Perel spoke with reporter Tyler Hayden, who’s been covering pot issues for the Santa Barbara Independent.
KCRW: How do city and county officials stand on the issue of legalized pot?
Hayden: Santa Barbara city council members are pretty split. Mayor Helene Schneider supports it, but council members like Randy Rowse are worried about underage usage.
On the county side, it’s also split. Third District County Supervisor Doreen Farr is wary about how it will impact her district as there’s a lot of agriculture. She’s expressed concern that if marijuana is legalized, a lot of the farmers would start farming it to the detriment of other crops.
Law enforcement is pretty much opposed across the board. So is Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley. She thinks that by legalizing it, you’ll create an even stronger underground market.
If it does pass, can districts in Santa Barbara County restrict certain things?
The law allows local jurisdictions to do what they want. Cities could prohibit storefronts or ban smoking it in certain areas. They couldn’t, however, outlaw personal usage or arrest you for transporting it in your car properly from one city or county to the next.
It is very much up to discretion of jurisdictions whether they want to let the business side of it grow.
You’ve written that some farmland and greenhouses in the county are already being bought by people looking to benefit from Prop 64. Where is that happening?
We’ve heard that farmland in Northern Santa Barbara, near Santa Maria and Lompoc, have been bought up. We’ve also heard that greenhouses in Carpinteria are being purchased and people who already own greenhouses are converting to marijuana growing.
They’re gambling on the fact that prop. 64 passes and the county will allow cultivation of recreational marijuana.
If Prop. 64 passes, do you think Santa Barbara will allow recreational marijuana storefronts to open?
Right now the city allows three medical marijuana storefronts. There’s been a little discussion about if the city will allow recreational shops or not but, from what I can tell, the city council will probably put a preemptive moratorium on recreational storefronts until state law gets figured out. I know they’re being really careful about it. There were a lot of issues around our medical marijuana storefronts when they opened about five years ago. Things got ugly with lawsuits and federal subpoenas to landlords, so I think the city is trying to avoid that again.
Find all our election coverage at kcrw.com/elections.