County must step up on pot regulations

When Californians voted to legalize marijuana I believe they wanted to decriminalize use and possession. I do not believe they voted to stand by while the cannabis industry establishes illegal pot farms in our communities.

I live in Tepusquet Canyon where for the past two years -- despite a county-wide moratorium on any cannabis operations -- neighbors have documented increasing numbers of illegal pot farms. We are not alone: contacts in Carpinteria, Cuyama, and Cebada Canyon report the same thing.

In Tepusquet, growers have purchased land that is hidden from public view. They have bulldozed flat places for hoop houses and have destroyed oak wild land habitat. They haul in water and have gas and diesel delivered by tanker truck. They run generators night and day. At what we call 'shift change' grower employees race down our one-lane road, endangering everyone they meet.

Current regulations are weak. As 1st District Supervisor Das Williams said recently, the county treats these cannabis operators as if they had done an illegal garage conversion. Without adequate law enforcement, these criminals will continue to proliferate in our communities and will operate with impunity.

And they definitely won't be paying taxes on their hidden and very lucrative crop.

I call on the Board of Supervisors to develop appropriate regulations to deal with this situation. I and my neighbors are tired of being treated as collateral damage in the county's search for tax revenue on cannabis.

Lil Clary

Santa Maria