A draft program environmental impact report on Santa Barbara County’s proposed land use ordinance and licensing program to regulate cannabis production and distribution is now available for public review.

Two public meetings — one in Santa Barbara and one in Santa Maria — are scheduled in the next two weeks for the county to hear oral testimony on the draft PEIR.

Written comments can be submitted until mid-November, according to the County Planning and Development Department.

The Cannabis Land Use Ordinance and Licensing Program would apply only to the unincorporated areas of the county and is intended to balance the demands for cannabis products with the health, safety and welfare of the community, a department spokesman said.

The program would regulate when, where and how cannabis could be cultivated, processed, manufactured, tested, distributed and sold and who could be licensed to conduct the processes at the various stages.

At the same time, the program is designed to protect the environment, neighborhood character and quality of life for residents and communities as a whole, the spokesman said.

Significant and unavoidable effects on the environment — Class 1 impacts — are identified in the draft PEIR, including impacts to air quality, agricultural resources, noise and transportation and traffic.

Significant but mitigable, or Class 2, effects involve aesthetics and visual, agricultural, biological and cultural resources, geology, hazards and hazardous materials, hydrology and water quality.

Class 2 impacts are also identified for land use and planning, noise, public services, transportation and traffic, utilities and energy conservation, and population, employment and housing.

Four alternatives, including no program, are also discussed in the document.

Public comments about the draft PEIR will be taken at meetings set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, in the Board Hearing Room on the fourth floor of the County Administration Building at 105 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara, and Tuesday, Oct. 17, in the Board Hearing Room of the Joseph Centeno Government Administration Building, 511 E. Lakeside Parkway, Santa Maria.

Written comments will be accepted by mail or email until 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16.

Comments should be submitted to senior planner Jessica Metzger by email at cannabisinfo@countyofsb.org or by mail at 123 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101.

Written comments can also be delivered at the public meetings.

To read the draft EIR and related documents, visit http://longrange.sbcountyplanning.org/programs/Cannabis/cannabis.php.

To obtain hard copies of the draft PEIR, contact Bill's Copy Shop at 1536 State St. in Santa Barbara by calling 564-4353.

For more information about the program, contact Mindy Fogg, supervising planner, at 884-6848 or mfogg@countyofsb.org or Metzger at 568-3532 or jmetzger@countyofsb.org.

This report was compiled by News Editor Mike Hodgson. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.