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Weed Wars: Meagan Takes Center Stage in Latest Cannabis Colonization Battle in Carp

The eyes of Santa Barbara’s Political Junkie Community will be on Meagan Harmon today, amid yet another forlorn appeal of the county’s hell-bent resolve to shove every facet of the cannabis industry down the throats of citizens in Carpinteria.

In her role as a member of the California Coastal Commission, city councilmember Harmon stands as the last hope for foes of The Roots Dispensary, a proposed retail pot shop which the skunk weed Board of Supervisors last fall rubber stamped to open for business on Santa Claus Lane.

Meeting virtually, beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday the commission will hear a formal appeal from longtime residents Dr. Steve Kent and Dr. Nancy Rikalo, who own property on Santa Claus Lane, of the county’s permit approval, arguing that Roots will produce traffic, parking and other impacts in violation of the California Coastal Act.

For those keeping score at home, it's Item 12b on the agenda.

Their petition is a procedural Hail Mary pass, because CCC staffers are recommending strongly it be rejected out of hand, asserting that it does not reach the threshold requirement of presenting a “Substantial Issue” that pertains to the Coastal Act. Representing Kent and Rikalo, land use attorney and former Coastal Commissioner Jana Zimmer begs to differ; in a tightly-packed and heavily-footnoted filing, only slightly longer than War and Peace, she contends that the permit was issued in breach of several aspects of the county’s Local Coastal Program.

Which is where Harmon comes in.

To be or not to be. As every school child knows, she pasted Supervisor Das Williams, the industry’s reigning lap dog, in an inside baseball contest to win appointment to the Coastal Commission from Gov. Gavin Newsom two years ago..

Now, as the hometown representative of the jurisdiction where the Roots dispute resides, Harmon likely will be given special attention, if not deference, by her commission colleagues for whatever words she does or does not speak on the matter.

Should she go along to get along with the staff recommendation, the long-running Roots weed wrangle will be settled once and for all, and ganja flower, edibles, pre-rolls, vapes, extracts, tinctures and topicals will be flying out the door on Santa Claus Lane in a jiffy.

Should she dissent, and find merit in the appeal, however, there is a greater-than-zero chance of persuading enough colleagues to agree with her, which would open up the permit approval de novo, i.e. from the beginning, leaving the commission to sort through the gnarly issues.

Watch for what you wish for, Meagan. In a phone interview, Harmon deflected all questions about the substance and specifics of the Santa Claus Lane kerfuffle, saying she plans to pay close attention to presentations about the appeal and “want(s) to hear what my colleagues have to say” before making a decision.

In her brief but impactful local political career, Harmon has consciously, consistently and calculatedly avoided getting anywhere near a cannabis conflict cuz: who needs the hassle?

Now the hassle has come to her.


Images: Weed Wars (; Meagan Harmon (LinkedIn).

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