One year ago, the Santa Barbara's Grand Jury delivered a searing report that savaged the Board of Supervisors for providing "unfettered access" to cannabis industry lobbyists in enacting a pot law that "opened the floodgates" to local marijuana cultivation in the county.
"The action taken by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors to certify the development of a robust cannabis industry as the primary objective of the cannabis ordinance has altered the quality of life in Santa Barbara County, perhaps forever," the jury reported.
At a time when understaffed local news outfits have been immersed in producing sustained and commendable work about the local impacts of the pandemic, veteran Santa Barbara journalist Melinda Burns assigned herself the arduous task of covering and uncovering the sweeping impacts and damaging unintended consequences of the transformative cannabis law.
"People on the ground are left to fend for themselves," in the face of life-altering changes to their health, safety and economic well-being, inflicted by the politically-wired pot industry, Burns said.
An award-winning environmental reporter who has covered Santa Barbara since 1985, Melinda these days produces in-depth and detailed journalism as a community service, working as a "volunteer freelancer" who wields her considerable talent. skills and resourcefulness on behalf of the public.
With three-fifths of the Board of Supervisors nestled deep in the pocket of the cannabis industry -- we see you, Steve Lavignino, Gregg Hart and pot puppet Das Williams -- Melinda more than any local reporter has given voice to residents, taxpayers and business owners coping with the sudden intrusion and encroachment of a new, multi-billion industry consistently coddled by local government.
In a one-on-one conversation with Newsmakers, she talks about how the controversial and much-criticized cannabis ordinance has disrupted life for thousands of locals, from the vineyards and tasting rooms of the Santa Ynez Valley, to the neighborhoods of beachside Carpinteria, a huge and ongoing news story that is hiding in plain sight.
With gratitude to Melinda for unstinting effort and commitment on behalf of the community's right to know, it's all here, right now, on Newsmakers TV.
CARTOON OF THE WEEK
Cartoon: Credit The New Yorker