A Town Once Known for Its Fresh Cut Flowers Now Smells Like Weed

A lot has changed in the picturesque town of Carpinteria, California. And those changes are being seen, felt, heard -- and yes -- even smelled.

For years, the Santa Barbara County town had a thriving flower production sector. But the business has been waning due to competition overseas. Carpinteria’s once famous carnations are now being replaced by a new kind of plant: cannabis.

As County News reported last month, Santa Barbara County has the most legal marijuana farms in the state. Much of the growth is concentrated in Carpinteria, where greenhouses formerly used for flowers are now grow houses for the county’s booming marijuana industry. For the growers and county coffers and economy as a whole, it’s good thing. But for those with a keen sense of smell, it stinks.

“We don’t want a marijuana smell,” said 73-year-old resident and retired sheriff’s deputy Xave Saragosa.  “We want fresh air.”

The county hears them. New odor abatement rules approved in February will go into effect later this year. As cultivators begin installing new odor abatement systems, the smell could let up.

But you can’t please every all the time and that’s clear in Carpinteria. For some, the issue may not be about the smell, but rather then change in the air.

“I would not like Carpinteria to be the ‘cannabis capital’ of Southern California,” said an 80-year-old resident and retired Episcopal priest. “I like it the way it is. It’s a very quiet, unpretentious beach town.”