No cannabis biz in Visalia, for now

Half of the Visalia City Council still feels it’s too risky to allow cannabis-related businesses to operate inside the city limits and asked staff at city hall not continue their exploration of opening the city to the state’s fastest-growing industry.

 

Plenty of Interest

The move comes despite a flow of continuous inquiries from business people eager to come to town. While retail outlets are chomping at the bit for a cut of potential medical and recreational cannabis sales, industrial manufacturers, brokers and growers would also very much like to make use of the city’s attractive industrial parks to expand their businesses, says City Manager Randy Groom. Groom–armed with a multipage list of cannabis-related businesses that have recently contacted the city and been turned away–brought a report on the potential new source of tax revenue during a recent council work-session.

The consensus of the four-member council was split evenly, meaning that for now Visalia will continue its state of cannabis prohibition and will do so until that consensus changes.

“We just found ourselves in a curious time when we discussed this,” Groom said. “With the passing of Vice Mayor (Phil) Cox, we had a tied council.”

Cox died in June from complications relating to a long battle with cancer, leaving an unfilled seat on the council. His replacement should be appointed by summer’s end. It was during a council retreat in January the five-member council showed renewed interest in allowing pot-related business in town, so the mood may change again.

“I suspect we’ll be back with this to take their temperature,” Groom said. “If the council expressed interest, we’d have three and half dozen retailers calling us the next day.”

 

Not Just Heads and Highs

Pot shop owners aren’t the only commercially-minded entrepreneurs who want to move to Visalia. Cannabis cultivation and sales brings the need for processors to compound the various cannabis products, warehousing and distribution, brokering, lab testing, transportation and delivery, and even industrial manufacturing of products made from cannabis industry waste. All of these various businesses–essentially new or extended forms of the ag processing business already thriving here–have shown immediate interest in coming to Visalia, mainly Groom says because of our ready industrial park and the city’s central location.

“There are potential opportunities for recycling out at the industrial park,” said Councilman Greg Collins during the council’s discussion of the matter. “This (cannabis) could be one of those uses.”

Collins also pointed out Visalia’s cannabis users are already buying legal cannabis at outlets in surrounding communities or from delivery services based out of town, meaning the cannabis is here, but not the sales tax revenue its distribution generated. Groom says other cities find the extra money useful.

“They certainly like the revenue, especially the small cities,” he said. “It can be significant for them.”

 

No Downside

Also making the retail and medical cannabis distribution business attractive is its relative safety. Unlike bars or liquor shops, cannabis dispensaries have not proven to increase crime in Tulare County so far.

“I always ask if there’s a down-side, and there’s not,” Groom said. “I have not heard any of them (the county’s other city managers) comment negatively on them. They tend to be very careful with their business.”

Tulare, Porterville, Woodlake, Lindsay and Farmersville allow cannabis resale to the public, as do Hanford and Lemoore. Farmersville City Manager Jennifer Gomez said her city’s pair of cannabis storefronts have been a boon to her town.

“No problems at all. Our two businesses, they’ve been great partners with the city,” she said. “We just have a good relationship. Our police department doesn’t get called out there. We don’t see more crimes because they’re there.”

 

Off the Bridge

Visalia Mayor Steve Nelsen, however, feels the city isn’t mature enough yet to handle cannabis, despite its legality in 18 states and US territories and its decriminalization in 13 more.

“My mom used to say, ‘If your friends jump off a bridge, are you going to jump off with them?’ and because our neighboring cities are allowing marijuana to come into their jurisdiction doesn’t mean I have to follow suit,” Nelsen said.

Despite repeated studies showing up to 63% of opioid users decreased their opioid use when given access to medical cannabis, Nelsen said he believes the number of people locally using it to treat their chronic pain or other conditions is small.

“I understand some people have to use it for pain because pain medication is not working,” he said. “That’s probably a small segment of our community, so I would oppose any type of medical dispensary and cultivation or any of that in our city of Visalia.”

 

Reefer Madness Redux

Nelsen also warned that cannabis can drive its users insane.

“There are reports out that marijuana causes schizophrenia,” the mayor said. “That’s a pretty substantial report and that’s got some pretty good background material. It talks about the increases in spousal abuse and abuse in general based on people using marijuana.”

However, according to a study from June 2020 published by the National Institute of Health, cannabis does not cause mental illness.

“People predisposed to the development of psychotic illnesses are more vulnerable to the psychotomimetic effects of cannabis, more specifically, THC,” the NIH report said. “Per se, cannabis does not cause schizophrenia or psychosis.”

Nelsen remains unconvinced.

“When we did the Houston, now it’s a tobacco shop, it used to be a convenience store, and we had quite a few people here that talked against tobacco, tobacco sales near a school, images of tobacco near a school, the health aspects of tobacco, and it took us umpeen years to realize there’s a correlation between cancer and smoking and the ill effects of smoking,” he said. “We don’t have that basis right now on marijuana usage.”

 

Good News for Farmersville

Gomez knows when Visalia does join the rest of the state in allowing cannabis sales it will impact Farmersville’s income, but not too critically.

“I’ve always assumed it’s a matter of when Visalia will allow it,” she said. “So it’s something we’re aware of, especially when we’re preparing the budget. When Visalia says no, we’re like we’re OK for another year.”

And the city’s cannabis shops are well situated on Highway 198, making them very accessible no matter what Visalia does.

“Frankly, our location on the highway gives an advantage,” Gomez said. “We might see a dip in sales, but it’s not going to cause us to close doors or anything like that.”

25 thoughts on “No cannabis biz in Visalia, for now

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  1. Is the mayor of visalia getting his information from the 1950’s films that were shown to US servicemen in the ’70’s? Come on, look around. These dispensaries are a boom to the local economy. Just see the benefits in Woodlake, Farmersville, etc. But then, if you believe tat Visalia has no need for $$$ influx, so be it

  2. Nelsen is a fear monger and Visalia is ran by MORONS LOL!! WHY DOESN’T VALLEY VOICE RIDICULE VISALIA CITY COUNCIL FOR TURNING DOWN TAX PAYING BUSINESSES! CANNABIS DOES NOT CAUSE SCHIZOPHRENIA! THE MAYOR OF VISALIA IS A LIAR! STEVE NELSEN IS A LIAR THAT GOES AGAINST DOCTORS AT NIH!!

  3. WE DONT WANT IT!!!

    The last thing this city needs, and the last thing this state needs is another cannabis dispensary. Drugs are the rhyme, and the most part reason for the homeless problem. The last thing we need is more weedy and meddle McGee’s roaming our streets, and bringing a depressing stain onto Visalia. Why focus on polluting our streets with pot when we could be focusing on other problems?

    • Also, it may be a boom to our economy, but the fix can’t be worse than the problem itself. Look at the tobacco industries, they were an economic boom, but now it’s worse to smoke a cigarette than a joint. Both are bad, but one is worse. Strengthen our cities economy by pleading the case to the folks in Sacramento. Maybe, just maybe, the tyrant, Emperor Newsom, will put in the effort to find a safe way to reopen our damaged economies under pressure from our recall.

      • TOBACCO DOESN’T ALTER THE MIND! ITS AS HARMLESS AS FATTY FOOD! MORE PPL DIE FROM HEART DISEASE MORON!! IT WILL ACTUALLY DECREASE BLACK MARKET SALES!!! DISPENSARIES WILL STOP GANGS FROM GETTING REVENUE FROM BLACK MARKET SALES!!!

    • SO ALCOHOL IS A DRUG? ALCOHOL IS WAY MORE DANGEROUS. ALCOHOL IS THE MAIN CAUSE OF HOMELESSNESS! THERE IS NO DISPENSARY IN VISALIA! YOU ARE LYING FEAR MONGERING MAYOR AREN’T YOU

      • Sir, this is America, we honor people’s opinions regardless how stupid you think they are. And I tell you, that was some stupid jibberish you just spewed. but I respect it. You liberals are way out of line, and you need to get your acts together. And you might be an internet troll because it took maybe 15 minutes for you to respond? Jeeeesh.

        • Keep hating. Moron fear monger. Go learn science and especially social sciences and how gangs are funded

          • I know how gangs are funded, but why should we be legalizing a substance(s) that ruin lives, health, and worlds? If all you can see is money coming from this than you should take a double step.

  4. I guess the answer is more bars, tobacco shops and liquor stores. I’m sure these are healthy alternatives.
    Seriously, do some research
    (Scientific) not facebook and twitter posts. Use your brain.

    • Listen, its a simple as ABC. Its wrong to capitalize a substance that inflicts as much harm as this one does. And in response yet again to the loud mouth Troy Kitchen, gangs are funded by the weed, and if it is a legal substance, the revenue will be diverted into a government fund, and we all use gold toilet seats and jewel encrusted sports cars. But why should we have a government that endorses the sale and use of said substance???

      • And besides, marijana also kills off brain cells! Next thing you know we will have our VP smoking a referino while presiding over the senate. If we let the weed biz encrouch on small town America, no time at all before the whole country is california. And I get it, petty drug charges are clogging the system, but why not work out a way to send them directly to a rehab instead of letting everybody in the world smoke it? or chew it.

        • Alcohol kills brain cells how do you blindly leave out that alcohol kills way more people every year. There has never been a cannabis OD DEATH. The people of California voted.

      • Wow commenting about me on other person’s thread. What is wrong with you. Alcohol and cigarettes are legal! It’s about freedom!

        • Troy, I agree it is your freedom. Do what you may to your own body.
          Whether your vice is alcohol, meth, marijuana, tobacco, heroin, I could care less. However, once you operate a car under the influence, or try to break into my property, and put my or my families life in jeopardy, God help your soul, because that is where I draw the line, and my freedoms kick in, if you know what I mean. Remember people voted this idiot for Governor into office, they voted for a bullet train, and even voted to raise their own taxes, so they proven unconditionally they struggle with intellect. Not sure marijuana will help that issue.

  5. Exactly. The last thing we need on the streets is another danger to public safety. And Troy, I understand that there hasnt been an o.d. death caused by pot but look at these statistics..97 DUI arrests involved only marijuana;
    183 DUI arrests involved both marijuana and alcohol;
    22 of the DUI arrests involving only marijuana resulted in property damage;
    Seven of the DUI arrests involving only marijuana resulted in injuries;
    None of the DUI arrests involving only marijuana resulted in fatalities;
    24 of the DUI arrests involving marijuana and alcohol resulted in injuries; and
    Seven of the DUI arrests involving marijuana and alcohol resulted in fatalities.

    • What good is the revenue if we have to use it to fix property damages? Or pay off lawsuits if a weed smoking driver happens to crash and it results in a fatality?

      • The same with alcohol USE! ITS FREEDOM! LAWSUITS? ARE YOU RETARDED!? CANNABIS IS LEGAL BY CA VOTERS! YOU CAN’T SUE. NOT THE CITY! THE CRIMINAL PAYS THE FEE. EVERYONE KNOWS THIS

    • How do you post stats with no sources cited. The CA VOTERS VOTED! YOU LOST! THE CITIZENS OF VISALIA SHOULD VOTE IF CANNABIS DISPENSARY IS ALLOWED. THE VOTERS EILL REMEMBER WHEN VOTING FOR MAYOR NEXT TERM! BYE STEVE NELSEN!!

      • Vote Republicans. Also, that came off of the CHP a records. Sorry my bad. Also why don’t you show some respect you liberal son of a gun. So get that it’s your freedom but you don’t realize that something that seems good to you may not seem great to the next guy. A one size fits all solution cannot work “genius”.

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