Week Goes to Pot; Speakers Discuss Cannabis at Three Separate Events

Attorney Amy Steinfeld speaks about the local cannabis industry at the Jan. 30 at the California Lutheran University Corporate Leaders Breakfast at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort.

It seems the last week of the first month of 2020 was dedicated to the discussion of cannabis. 

“Cannabis is not like any other crop,” attorney Amy Steinfeld told a crowd of more than 100 at the California Lutheran University Corporate Leaders Breakfast at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort on Jan. 30. 

Steinfeld, managing partner at the Law Firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, was one of eight speakers who addressed the subject of cannabis this week on the South Coast. 

On Jan. 29, four scientists spoke to the UCSB Canna Club in Isla Vista regarding the need for understanding and proper testing of cannabis products. 

And, on Jan. 28 a former Santa Barbara County undersheriff and ex-police chief of Pasadena, who now is a county assistant CEO, discussed the subject of cannabis with two other speakers at the winter meeting of the UCSB Economic Forecast Project. See https://santabarbarabusinessnews.com/business/ucsb-economic-forecast-winter-event-set-for-jan-28/ 

Despite the proliferation of cannabis permits in the county, Steinfeld said getting one “is not for the faint of heart.” 

She said the industry is over-taxed and over-regulated with a patchwork of laws even though it could become an $8 billion cash cow by 2024. However, she said, California’s current Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to consolidate rules and regulations. 

Steinfeld, whose firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck deals mainly with water and land-use issues, said critics of the county’s policy on cannabis are not on solid ground. 

Odors and “hoop houses” are the most controversial topics regarding cannabis. However, Steinfeld noted that only 1 percent of the land in the county is allowed to grow marijuana and the smell of pot is only present 20 days of the year during harvesting. 

Steinfeld said the bias against marijuana and hemp came about when President Richard M. Nixon started a war on those substances to get back at “hippies” whom he detested and wanted incarcerated. That led to jailing many people of color, she said. 

The attorney also noted that cannabis uses about half the amount of water as most other crops and it takes that from the ground. 

The night before Steinfeld’s speech, four scientists discussed “Cannabis & Science” at the Isla Visa Theater 2. 

One of the speakers, Shuli Shuman, founder and owner of Tru Science Labs, stressed the need to know the source and contents of cannabis products, especially those used in vape devices. When buying such a product at a dispensary, look for the store’s business license and permit to sell cannabis, she said. 

Shuman referred to the national vaping crisis in which scores of smokers have been killed or injured by devices that may or may not have cannabis in them. The products may not be safe if they are not certified by the state, she said. 

While California certifies legal vape products, other states do not, Shuman said. California tests cannabis for 66 different pesticides, she said. “Buy less, buy legal,” she advised. 

Another speaker, Elijah Spina, bemoaned the fact that there has been limited funding for cannabis research. 

When asked if UCSB may someday have an academic major in cannabis, as do a growing number of universities, Spina said he doubted it.

Posted Jan. 30, 2020.

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