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SLO County cannabis grower charged with bribing supervisor could lose 6 state licenses

There were no erosion controls for the bare ground exposed by abandoned hoop houses at one of Helios Dayspring’s properties in Tepusquet Canyon, pictured in 2019. All cannabis cultivation in the canyon was banned in 2020.

Two years after Helios Dayspring was caught breaking county zoning and state water quality laws, for illegally expanding a cannabis operation on private land in Los Padres National Forest and polluting the creeks, Santa Barbara County officials are taking steps that could lead to the shutdown of his last remaining grow here.

Dayspring’s rise in the Central Coast cannabis industry was swift. The Natural Healing Center founder opened three dispensaries in San Luis Obispo County in recent years and was granted 37 provisional state licenses for the cultivation of medical marijuana in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

A glowing promotional video from 2017, posted on YouTube, called Dayspring “The Sun King.”

“It’s a high-risk business,” Dayspring says in the video, which features his cannabis grows in the Los Padres and Tepusquet Canyon, east of Santa Maria. “You can lose everything. You have to have the confidence to pull this … off … We’re never leaving the mountains if we don’t have to. We’re always going to be staying out here, because this is where the true beauty of California is.”

Yet he may be leaving soon.

In an abrupt reversal of fortune, Dayspring is expected to plead guilty this month to felony charges of tax evasion in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties and bribing a San Luis Obispo County supervisor.

The plea agreement was filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles on July 28. Court documents state that the bribe was $32,000, and that Dayspring will pay the Internal Revenue Service $3.4 million. He faces up to 13 years in prison.

Helios Dayspring, owner of the Natural Healing Center cannabis dispensaries in Grover Beach, Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo, stands next to drying hemp plants to be used for biomass and CBD oil, in 2019. Dayspring has agreed to plead guilty to charges of tax evasion and bribing late San Luis Obispo County supervisor Adam Hill for favorable votes on his projects. David Middlecamp DMIDDLECAMP@THETRIBUNENEWS.COM

Now, Santa Barbara County officials have been laying the groundwork for a state order that would force Dayspring to surrender the six provisional licenses that allow him to grow cannabis on his Los Padres in-holdings — two parcels totaling 160 acres on an oak-studded ridgeline in the San Rafael Mountains, two miles from Tepusquet Road.

These are the only active state licenses that Dayspring currently holds for cannabis cultivation in this county, down from 18 in 2018.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Melinda Burns on The Tribune San Luis Obispo

Published: August 18, 2021

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