‘Wine vs. Weed’ Battle Brewing in Santa Ynez Valley

A “wine vs. weed” battle of sorts seems to be shaping up in the Santa Ynez Valley, a Santa Barbara attorney told about 100 cannabis business people Jan. 24 at the downtown Impact Hub. 

Brownstein Farber Hyatt Schreck attorney Amy Steinfeld said while many wine grape growers in the valley oppose the use of prime farmland for growing cannabis, she said she thinks “they will find synergy” in the coming year. 

Steinfeld was speaking to the Quarterly Cannabis Workshop and Networking Event. She also pointed out that Santa Barbara County has more cannabis licenses that another municipality in California, where recreational use of marijuana became legal in the state last year. 

But more than just pot growers attended the Thursday evening session. Others included: Drew Hunter who just started an online cannabis oil business this month: Paul Costello whose Mary Jane Services Network provides industry professional resources: Shuli Suman whose True Science Laboratories test marijuana; and Magda Arroyo from Brown & Brown Insurance. 

Steinfeld said those in the industry face a “patchwork of regulations” as well as different municipal reactions. For example, she said Carpinteria-area residents are reacting based on fear while Lompoc is embracing cannabis wholeheartedly. 

Valley grape growers and pot growers face a showdown Jan. 29 in front of the county Board of Supervisors over use of “hoop houses” used to grow cannabis and other crops. Vineyard owners say the hoops are unsightly and are bad for farmland. 

Meanwhile to the south, Ventura has completely banned cannabis production. She said it appears Ventura is waiting see what is happened in neighboring Santa Barbara where she sees the cannabis industry as a boon to future tourism growth. Santa Maia also banned commercial pot growing in 2015. 

Another Brownstein attorney, Dan Ackerman, discussed the need for cannabis businesses to register and protect their trade names since hundreds of cannabis applications have been filed in California. 

One of the key organizers of the Thursday event, SBVerde,  said more similar gatherings are planned this year to bring together the fastest-growing industry in the state. Organizers said the Central Coast is a perfect area for this since it’s great for growing most anything and it’s situated between the huge Los Angeles and Bay area markets. 

SBVerde is developing a printed business directory that will be distributed at more than 148 locations, primarily in hotels and car rental businesses, and include recreational dispensaries on the Central Coast and local brands. For more information, see https://www.sbverde.com/ 

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