Profile: A closer look at Santa Barbara Co. Sheriff’s Cannabis Compliance Team successes and future challenges

While local leaders are mapping out ways to support and regulate licensed grows – law enforcement and prosecutors are overwhelmed with the number of illegal grows.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Cannabis Compliance Team got its start in June of 2018.

Its first goal was to catch unlicensed growers, but now there is a bigger issue not only with the number illegal grows but also with fake licenses.

This past June, the sheriff’s office says it seized more than 20 tons of illegal cannabis products.

“We anticipated that there would be a large number of purely illegal grows but we did not really understand how large the problem was,” said John Savrnoch, Santa Barbara County chief deputy district attorney.

Cannabis crops in Santa Barbara County are popping up like weeds and authorities say many of these grows are illegal.

“If we are not on an actual eradication, we are in the case preparation for the eradication of an illegal grow,” said Lieutenant Greg Sanders, the Santa Barbara County Compliance Team supervisor.

Sanders and his compliance team investigate odor complaints then obtain search warrants and raid illegal grows.

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