Southern California marijuana farmers notch legal victory

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Marijuana growers in California’s famed wine region of Santa Barbara County scored a major legal victory in court over opponents of the growing cultivation sector who had sought to curtail a 22-acre farm, a move that could have had major repercussions for other growers in the area.

According to the Santa Barbara Independent, a county superior court judge threw out the case this week, which had alleged that the farm in question – Busy Bee’s Organics – violated a state law requiring an environmental review for every MJ cultivation operation, as well as local zoning restrictions.

Underlying the case were concerns from many in the wine industry that outdoor MJ grows could significantly harm nearby grape farmers with pesticide “drift” and potential contamination from air-borne cannabis terpenes.

Another common complaint in Santa Barbara among cannabis industry opponents is odor control, given the strong smell of outdoor cannabis farms.

But the judge in the case said that the lawsuit had been brought too late, and that the proper time to challenge the county’s MJ rules was in 2018, when they were first adopted and when there was a 30-day window for stakeholders to object.

The judge ruled that Busy Bee’s Organics was in compliance with all applicable laws, both state and local, and dismissed the case.

The lawsuit was filed by the Santa Barbara Coalition for Responsible Cannabis, a group of winemakers, farmers and residents, which has also filed another three lawsuits and “two dozen appeals of cannabis zoning permits in recent years,” the Independent reported.

A spokesperson for the organization promised an appeal on the ruling.