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Santa Barbara County Cannabis Cultivation Practices


Introduction and Purpose

Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), San Diego State University (SDSU), UC Riverside (UCR), and UC Berkeley (UCB), assisted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), are performing research to understand cannabis farm environmental performance in Santa Barbara County (SBC). We are interviewing cannabis growers for self-reported farm practices, analyzing pesticide residues, and sampling and testing surface water quality on/near your cannabis cultivation site—to assess farming practice, plant residue, and water quality indicators of overall environmental performance. 


Funding source

Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). Press release for awarded projects is here.


Why is this Research Important?

The recent legalization of cannabis or marijuana production has introduced a “new”, unique and highly valuable crop to California that is on par with other major commodities like grapes, almonds and citrus. As with these other crops, scientists at the University of California work to address and improve the agricultural, social and ecological aspects of cannabis production. The goal of this research is to characterize cannabis production systems in Santa Barbara County. We are interested in learning about the different styles of production and unique crop management challenges faced by cannabis growers. Information gathered in this project will be useful for helping to identify research and education needs for cannabis production as well as documenting changes over time. By characterizing cannabis production systems, UC scientists will be able to identify key production issues and subsequently develop relevant research and extension programs to support cannabis growers.


Who Should Participate?

This research project is open to anyone who produces a cannabis crop in Santa Barbara County. 



If you choose to be in this study, we will interview you to learn more about what kind of environmental management practices cultivators use for cannabis cultivation, and what factors (economic, political, environmental) motivate these practices. The interview should take one to two hours to complete. We will also work with you to obtain plant material, and to sample surface water, for analyses of environmental indicators including pesticides.



The data collected here is absolutely anonymous and will be handled confidentially. No personally identifiable information (e.g. name, address, phone number, computer IP log etc.) will be collected as part of this project. The data collected here will be retained for up to five years and may be used in future research. Data collected in this project is for research only, and not for regulatory or enforcement purposes. 


What will we do with the findings?

We will provide a rigorous, fact-based assessment of cannabis cultivation in Santa Barbara County that helps fill a gap in knowledge of the industry, its environmental impacts, and best practices for cultivation strategies. We will share the aggregated results of this project with you, interested local organizations, other researchers, and policy makers. 


Participation is Voluntary

We encourage your full participation, as your voice can make a difference in understanding cannabis farming in Santa Barbara County. Still, your participation is completely voluntary; you are free to change your mind at any time and quit the study, including during the interview when you may skip any questions you do not wish to answer. 


Who We Are / Contact Us

  • Primary Institutional Affiliation: Earth Research Institute (ERI) at UC Santa Barbara
  • Principle Investigator (PI): Dr. Patricia Holden, UC Santa Barbara 
  • Institutional partnerships (team member affiliations): UC Santa Barbara (UCSB), San Diego State University (SDSU), UC Riverside (UCR), UC Berkeley (UCB), assisted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)


If you have any questions about your rights or treatment as a research participant in this study, please contact:

Dr. Sanaz Chamanara (sanazchamanara@ucsb.edu / 323-806-0686)


Thank you for sharing your insights and opinions with us.