County Issues Action Plan to Improve Cannabis Licensing Following State Audit Report

Cannabis plants (stock photo)

The County of Santa Barbara has issued a plan to improve its cannabis licensing after a state audit identified several issues in a report last month.

Edhat published a story on the report’s findings on Tuesday and the county’s statement on its “action plan” was released on Wednesday.

The audit report sheds light on inconsistencies and deficiencies in ensuring fairness and preventing conflicts of interest, thereby highlighting the significant control the county has over the regulation of cannabis businesses.

The audit found Santa Barbara County does not always include several best practices in their permitting policies that help to ensure fairness and prevent conflicts of interest, abuse, and favoritism.

The full article on the state’s findings and how it pertains to Santa Barbara County can be found here.

Below is the full press release issued by the County on April 17, 2024:

County Releases Action Plan to Improve Cannabis Licensing

State audit requires no action, but County will be enhancing its practices

 The County of Santa Barbara was one of six local jurisdictions included in an audit report issued by the State Auditor on March 28, 2024, regarding local jurisdictions’ role in cannabis licensing. The State Auditor did not make formal recommendations to the County that require further action, but the County will be using the information in the report to enhance its practices.

The audit included the counties of Santa Barbara and Monterey and the cities of Fresno, Sacramento, San Diego, and South Lake Tahoe. The audit, can be found here.

The objective of the audit was to review and evaluate the permitting process for cannabis.  The State Auditor looked at several items with a focus on fairness; following procedures; creating policies and procedures that comply with local laws; and adopting ordinances or creating policies to regulate cannabis permitting and making that information public. The State audit noted that all the local jurisdictions’ policies and procedures complied with relevant state and local laws and regulations, and Santa Barbara County was noted for following best practices in clearly communicating information to the public on the permit process.

“While there are no specific recommendations required of us and the audit found no financial or legal deficiencies, we acknowledge the value in assessing and enhancing processes related to issuing local permits,” said Chief Assistant County Executive Officer Nancy Anderson, who serves as the Compliance and Accountability Officer for the County.  “Our team has reviewed the information in the report to improve our cannabis licensing, to foster accountability and transparency.”

Some of the improvements the County will be making to enhance its practices are to implement a blind scoring process into portions of the application; to not only document failed background checks but also passed background checks; and to have all staff involved in the cannabis business license approval process to go on the record with an impartiality statement for each application.

The audit highlighted some of the actions the County has already taken as best practices, such as allowing appeals of denied cannabis business applications; contracting with a third party for initial review; and clearly providing information for the public including a flow chart that illustrates the online application process.

The County’s full response to the general recommendations made can be found here.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

What do you think?


0 Comments deleted by Administrator

Leave a Review or Comment

One Comment

  1. So the county received the audit report well over one month ago and responded to the state but waited until local media (edhat was the first) to bring attention to this report to then suddenly issue their “Action Plan?” Great work everyone.

Lipstick Wildlife?

Sunrise from the Riviera