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Das Attacks Grand Jury's Cannabis Report: " A Remarkable Lack of Knowledge" of Issues (Update)

Supervisor Das Williams charged on Monday that the Santa Barbara Grand Jury displayed "a remarkable lack of knowledge" in its blistering report about the origin and operations of the county's controversial cannabis ordinance.

In his first extensive public comments since the Grand Jury criticized the Board of Supervisors for "open(ing) the floodgates" to pot growers and providing "unfettered access" to lobbyists for the industry, Williams pushed back on the critique during a radio interview.

"The process has been enormously good" for Santa Barbara, he told Steve Chiotakis, host of the "Greater LA" program on KCRW-FM public radio, in a recorded interview.

The program, which also solicited comments from Newsmakers, is scheduled to air today (Monday July 13) at 88.7 on KCRW in Santa Barbara and 89.9 FM in Ventura and L.A. at 1:10 p.m. and 6:40 p.m., according to the station.

The grand jury report, which is here, hit the supervisors for crafting an out-of-scale and badly flawed ordinance based on the primary goal of implanting a "robust" cannabis industry in the county, without proper regard to its impact on neighbors, vintners and other agriculture businesses, that was driven by a transactional political process. Our story on the report is here.

The supervisors have 90 days to reply formally to each of the jury's many criticisms. But Williams took to the airwaves early to push back, portraying the pot law as a major success story for the county, while insisting that industry lobbyists did not exercise undue influence because "everybody had unfettered access" to him during the ordinance-writing process.

"I found it annoying" how often representatives of the industry wanted to meet with him, he acknowledged however.

Rather than "opening the floodgates" to any grower who claimed he had previously been cultivating medical marijuana, Williams portrayed the ordinance in large part as an effort to go after and shut down illegal grows. He also asserted that the $10.7 million in pot revenue the county received this year -- one third of which goes to enforcement -- avoided "very dramatic cuts" in law enforcement and other services in the $1.2 billion budget.

He also heralded the ordinance for controlling the "nuisance" of skunky odor yielded by pot operations in Carpinteria, where many residents have long and loudly complained about the stench.

"We have a zero standard for odor," he said.

Images: KCRW logo; Steve Chiotakis; Das at a 2020 campaign debate.

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