Our Mission:

College Affordability for Santa Barbara County.

Over 20,000 Santa Barbara County public college students face hunger or homelessness each year. We are calling for Santa Barbara County leaders to create a Basic Needs Grant Program to address this college affordability crisis.


Santa Barbara County students are in crisis. Responsible cannabis cultivation can be a solution.

For decades, Santa Barbara County’s public colleges and universities were free and open to all. But today, college students in Santa Barbara County face skyrocketing tuition, student loan debt, and even campus hunger and homelesssness. The driving factor behind all of it is cutting public funding from our institutions of higher education. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can give every Santa Barbara County college student a chance to live free from hunger and homelessness by using the tax revenue from responsible cannabis cultivation.


Crisis Facts


Nearly 1 in 5 California Community College students experienced homelessness.

According to a survey of nearly 40,000 California Community College students across 57 campuses, 19 percent of respondents were homeless in the previous year.

Half of California Community College Students Experienced Food Insecurity in the past 30 days.

The #RealCollege survey also found that 50 percent of respondents were food insecure in the previous 30 days. In a separate survey, out of more than 250,000 University of California students, 42% identified as food insecure in a 2016 Global Food Initiative report. Students who report having lower food security also reported having lower GPAs (3.1) than students who are confident in their food security (3.4). 

University of California tuition has jumped 86 percent since 2008 alone.

Students who attend the University of California have experienced tuition hikes year after year—putting college increasingly out of reach.

The Crisis in Our Backyard

"As an independent student, my second year pushed me to my limit. Not having consistent access to food made working and studying for school stressful. I saw the difference in my studies and output once I had access to CalFresh. However, not everyone has access to CalFresh. We need investment in students’ basic needs to address our food insecurity crisis.”

-Ashriful Dulla, UCSB Class of 2019

Major in Philosophy


“Being food insecure isn’t only about not knowing where my next meal is coming from. I’m tired all the time because I don’t get the nutrition I need. I’m stressed out because I try to stretch one meal into three. I can’t focus on school to the best of my ability.

No one should struggle with food insecurity.”

-Justice Dumalo, UCSB Associated Students Senator


“There were many times when I had food insecurity because there would always be an issue with my CalFresh. Many times I would have sleep for dinner or I would try to find events at my school with free food. Once, I relied on free food so much that I ended up gorging myself on the unhealthy options free events provide- processed foods high in sodium and sugar with low nutritional value.

I hope we can do something to make nutritious food more available to students.”

-Patxy Cordova, UCSB Class of 2019

Double Major in Spanish and Political Science


“ My friends are skipping meals to buy books. Student loan debt is crippling our ability to move out, find a steady job, and have our piece of the American Dream.

We need a reinvestment in higher education now.”

- Taylor Tungasmita, San Jose State

Biological Sciences Candidate

Our Solution


Cannabis revenue can put college within reach for everyone in Santa Barbara County.

Legal cannabis cultivation is a reliable, sustainable, and effective solution to the college affordability crisis. County cannabis generates $5.6 million per year in tax revenue. This income could expand to $25 million per year as the industry grows. Cannabis tax revenue can and should be used to address the pressing issue of college affordability in our community by funding programs that support basic needs services for students.


Our Proposal

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We ask the county supervisors to use 20% of the cannabis tax revenue, $1.1 million per year, to create a Basic Needs Grant Program (BNGP). The BNGP would support community partners, public universities, and non-profits to create and expand basic needs services for Santa Barbara County college students. With this funding we could expand food banks, create rapid rehousing programs for students experiencing homelessness, and distribute basic hygiene kits to students in need.

We ask for constructive community feedback on our proposal so that we may produce a holistic and detailed solution to our basic needs crisis. Please review our proposal and send us feedback by clicking below.


The County Supervisors can allocate cannabis revenue for college affordability initiatives.

During the July 9th Supervisors’ meeting, Santa Barbara County Council stated that the county can spend the cannabis tax fund on social needs. We at Free SB know that our community’s basic needs crisis is a social need that merits immediate action from Santa Barbara County Supervisors.

We came together as a community to produce a proposal that addressed our community’s social need to mitigate the problems of student homelessness, food insecurity, and other non-tuition burdens of earning a degree. Now, we must implement our vision.


Anti-cannabis prohibitionists are trying to ban cannabis in the county.

The crackdown on cannabis cultivators in Santa Barbara County is driven by people who want to criminalize cannabis cultivation and use. Their regressive views don’t represent the majority of Santa Barbara voters, but the folks advocating to end legal cannabis do have money and influence where it counts.

As students, we recognize that re-criminalizing marijuana would be a return to the failed war on drugs. We deserve better than the racist waste of taxpayer dollars to outlaw marijuana, and we believe there has to be a better way. That’s what inspired our campaign to leverage the revenue from cannabis cultivation for a cause that reflects our values.

As one of the only new sources of tax revenue in the county, cannabis can and should be used to address a real community crisis: student homelessness and hunger.


Get Involved


Free SB is building community support behind our college affordability movement, revising our Basic Needs Grant Program proposal, and collaborating with community partners to host a Town Hall on October 11th.

You can help. Like us on Facebook, review and critique our policy proposal, sign our petition, and email us to join our team.


YOUR DONATION will support student leaders who are conducting the research for our campaign, and educating our community about the need for a BNGP. Our leadership team consists of experienced student organizers who have experienced basic needs challenges themselves and are dedicated to eradicating basic needs insecurity. In order to ensure we can continue our campaign without suffering from food and housing insecurity ourselves, we rely on the generosity of donors to sponsor small stipends to support our student organizers.


Submit your Idea and Sign our petition

Please share your ideas about how cannabis taxes should be used to address this crisis.

Sign our petition supporting our movement.


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