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Business - Cannabis

California Town Discovers That Cannabis Has a Scent

  • Residents throughout California discover weed production procures a pungent smell, not appreciated by all.
  • However, Cannabis production has ensued an agricultural boom in areas like Carpinteria and other areas of Southern California, where conventional crops have failed, due to outsourcing.
  • Mollie Culver, of The Cannabis Business Council of Santa Barbara County: “Santa Barbara isn’t like cannabis run amok. It is actually the most compliant market we’ve seen in the state.”
In this April 12, 2018, photo, a worker walks into a greenhouse growing cannabis plants at Glass House Farms in Carpinteria, Calif. Greenhouses that once produced flowers are seen as ideal for growing marijuana. It takes only about three months to grow cannabis in pots of shredded coconut husks, so farmers can get multiple harvests each year. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

CARPINTERIA, Calif. — This picturesque coastal town cradled by mountains and sandy shores is a scene out of a Southern California postcard. Residents of Carpinteria say they feel lucky to live in what they consider a slice of paradise.

But change is in the air. And sometimes, they say, it stinks.

Cannabis has become a new crop of choice in the farmlands surrounding this tight-knit community, which has long fueled the U.S. cut flower industry.

Residents say a thick, skunk-like odor from the cannabis plants settles over the valley in the evenings and before dawn. To keep out the stench, they have tried stuffing pillows under doors, lighting incense and shutting windows, a reluctant choice since it also keeps out the cool ocean breezes that are part of the town’s allure.

“We don’t want a marijuana smell,” said Xave Saragosa, a 73-year-old retired sheriff’s deputy who was born and raised in the town and lives near a greenhouse that grows cannabis. “We want fresh air.”

Saragosa said the odor pervades his hillside home at night and keeps his wife up coughing.

Beaches, Wine, and Cannabis

Carpinteria, about 85 miles (137 kilometers) from Los Angeles, is in the southeast corner of Santa Barbara County, a tourist area famous for its beaches, wine and temperate climate. It’s also becoming known as a haven for cannabis growers.

‘Santa Barbara County isn’t like cannabis run amok. It is actually the most compliant market we’ve seen in the state.’

The county amassed the largest number of marijuana cultivation licenses in California since broad legalization arrived on Jan. 1 — about 800, according to state data compiled by The Associated Press. Two-thirds of them are in Carpinteria and Lompoc, a larger agricultural city about an hour’s drive to the northwest.

Virtually all of Carpinteria’s licenses are for small, “mixed-light” facilities, which essentially means greenhouses.

The result is a large number of licenses but small total acreage. Only about 200 acres of the county’s farmland is devoted to cannabis, compared with tens of thousands sown with strawberries and vegetables, said Dennis Bozanich, who oversees the county’s cannabis planning.

History of Flower Farming

The area’s greenhouses have their roots in Carpinteria’s…

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